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Changes to the Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans With Disabilities Act, signed into law in 1990 provided job place relief for millions of America’s living with disabilities. This act was designed to prevent discrimination against employees in the work place, provide fairness and equality in hiring decisions, as well make public services more accessible. As an extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA has made a positive impact on the lives of those affected by a disability and provides a legal remedy to fight against violations.

Since being written into law however, the ADA has come under fire by many employers and judges alike. A series of Supreme Court Decisions in the 1990’s had narrowed the definition of disabled in the eyes of the Court, resulting in a lessened ability for plaintiffs to successfully take their claims of ADA violations to court. Disabled Americans came under greater scrutiny as it became harder to prove that one had been discriminated against as a result of a disability.

Thankfully, President Bush has signed into law a series of changes to undo this restricted definition of disabilities. According to the new rules which go into effect in January of 2009, the new changes intended to create “a broad scope of protection for employees”. Specifically, these amendments are meant to undo decisions that ruled against claims made by employees whose disability had been mitigated or is undergoing treatment at the time. For example, under the narrow definition before a person suffering from diabetes but undergoing treatment for it did not qualify as disabled in the eyes of the Court. Another change is that individuals suffering from episodic disorders, such as epilepsy or other seizure-causing disorders fall under the Americans with Disabilities act. This brings relief to many workers whose disabilities are able to be recognized in the courts, and ensure equal protection in the workplace.

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