The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”) amended the Americans with Disabilities Act to expand the definition of “disability,” which had been limited over the years by court decisions. In enacting the ADAAA, Congress specifically rejected United States Supreme Court interpretations of the meaning of the term “disability.” The result of the ADAAA was to make it easier for individuals with impairments to demonstrate that they satisfy the definition of “disability.”
On May 15, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) revised its guidance as it relates to several types of impairments, namely, cancer, disability, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities. As stated by the EEOC Chair, Jacqueline A. Berrien, “Nearly 34 million Americans have been diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, or epilepsy, and more than 2 million have an intellectual disability. Many of them are looking for jobs or are already in the workplace. While there is a considerable amount of general information available about the ADA, the EEOC often is asked questions about how the ADA applies to these conditions.”
New York State and New York City each has laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. The definitions of “disability” contained within the New York State and New York City laws were always substantially broader than the definition contained within the ADA. This remains true, even after the ADAAA was enacted.