Employment Law

Disability Discrimination

How did Congress change the ADA in 2008?

Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 to broaden the scope of the law’s protection. The United States Supreme Court had narrowed the law’s protections in a couple of its rulings: Sutton v. United Airlines (1999) and Toyota Motor Manufacturing v. Williams (2002). In Sutton, the Court had ruled that if a disability could be corrected or mitigated, that prevented the condition from being considered a true disability that substantially limited an employee. The case involved two airline pilots who were very near-sighted.

In Williams the Court ruled that a disability had to be substantially limiting by severely restricting a major life activity that was of central importance to a person’s daily life—not something that simply prevent them from performing certain tasks on the job.

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 was introduced in order, as the sponsor of the legislation said, “to restore the protections” of the original ADA.


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