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Davis Brown Employment and Labor Law Blog

Employment Law Blog: Key Takeaways - Complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act - May 6, 2013

As a follow-up to their presentation at the firm's Annual Employment Law Seminar, attorneys Deborah M. Tharnish and Sarah K. Franklin have prepared two takeaways in regards to Complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act:

  1. The Amended Americans with Disabilities Act has greatly expanded the definition of “disability.”  Under the ADAAA and its regulations, disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”  “Major life activities” include – caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, breathing, learning, and working.  When in doubt, employers should assume that an employee is disabled.

  2. Once you have determined that an employee is disabled under the ADAAA, the employer should initiate an interactive process to determine whether a reasonable accommodation is required and document the employee’s circumstances and the job requirements.  During the interactive process the employer should work directly with the employee and attempt to determine whether there are any reasonable accommodations that would allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.  While the employer is generally not required to alter the essential functions of the job to meet the employee’s needs, all reasonable accommodations should be considered.