TWO FEDERAL AGENCIES ISSUE NEW ADA RULES

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulates two main areas of city action: employment and construction of facilities.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for the ADA construction of facilities rules.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for regulations dealing with employment of individuals with disabilities.

The DOJ issued revised regulations on accessibility in facility construction that went into effect on March 15.  According to the DOJ press release, “the new rules adopt the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which have been retooled to be more user-friendly for building code officials, builders, and architects, and have been harmonized with state and local accessibility codes.”  The 2010 standards also include – for the first time – standards on making swimming pools, parks, golf courses, boating facilities, exercise clubs, and other recreation facilities accessible for individuals with disabilities.  Cities covered by the ADA have until March 15, 2012, to comply with the 2010 Standards.   In addition, the amended regulations contain many new or expanded provisions on general nondiscrimination policies.  The compliance date for the all the new nondiscrimination provisions is March 15, 2011.  For additional information, see
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/March/11-crt-324.html.
To view the 2010 ADA Standards, go to:
http://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm

On March 24, the EEOC issued final revised regulations implementing the 2008 Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA).  The ADAAA went into effect in January 2009, and the proposed EEOC implementing rules were reported in the September 30, 2009, edition of the Legislative Update
(http://www.tml.org/leg_updates/legis_update093009l_ada.asp).  The final regulations reflect the comments received by the EEOC.  The final regulations: (1) keep the ADA’s definition of the term “disability,” but outline a list of principles to guide the determination of whether a person has a disability; (2) clarify that the term “major life activities” includes “major bodily functions”; and (3) make it easier for individuals to establish coverage under the “regarded as” part of the definition of “disability.”  As with the ADAAA itself, the main issue now is not whether an employee is disabled, but whether the employer and employee are successful in working with the disability and making reasonable accommodations, if possible.

The EEOC has prepared two “question-and-answer” documents about the regulations to aid the public and employers on the new regulations, available on the EEOC Web site at
http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adaaa_info.cfm.
To view the EEOC press release on the final regulations, go to
http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/3-24-11.cfm.


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