The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments of 2008 (ADAAA), which went into effect on January 1, 2009, was specifically designed by Congress to reject certain previous United States Supreme Court decisions that had narrowed the broad scope of protection originally intended by Congress to be afforded under the ADA. Specifically, the meaning of what constitutes a “disability” has been broadened to effectively cover more individuals under the Act.
The primary result of this broadened meaning of “disability” will largely shift future legal analysis of ADA cases from determining whether the plaintiff is disabled to determining whether the plaintiff was discriminated against due to a disability. The ADAAA also countered the Supreme Court’s rulings in Sutton v. United Air Lines Inc. and Williams v. Toyota Manufacturing of Kentucky.
The effect of these changes will likely be that the population of “disabled” individuals will be greatly increased from what it was under the ADA, but many other provisions under the ADA, such as those dealing with reasonable accommodations and medical examinations will remain largely the same.