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As a special service to our clients, Barran Liebman LLP provides valuable Electronic AlertsSM free of charge. The Electronic AlertsSM summarize new case law and statutes that may impact your business, and suggest methods to comply with new legal requirements.
If you would like a copy of an archived E-Alert emailed to you, please contact Traci Ray by email or phone at 503-276-2115.
Signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has developed into a significant component of the employer-employee relationship. Described as the world’s first most comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, public service, public accommodation, transportation, and telecommunication.
From its early beginnings, the ADA has passed through its adolescent years by going through numerous United States Supreme Court battles and subsequent amendments, the most significant of which is the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). In enacting the ADAAA, Congress pushed back Court interpretations that had narrowed the definition of disability, making it easier for people seeking protection under the ADA to establish disability within the meaning of the statute. To shed some perspective, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that in fiscal year 2000 there were 15,864 ADA charges filed compared to 25,369 in 2014 (includes concurrent charges with Title VII, ADEA, and EPA).
Following the enactment of the ADA, individual states have established their own counterparts to the ADA that often require employers to provide greater protection to employees, or are applicable to a greater number of employers. For instance, the federal ADA only applies to employers with 15 or more employees while Oregon’s disabilities law applies to employers with six or more employees.
Now in its early adulthood the ADA continues to mature and change. Earlier this year the EEOC revised its guidance with respect to pregnancy discrimination and entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Justice to coordinate investigations and share information concerning public sector employers.
In enacting this landmark legislation 25 years ago, the country took a large step toward eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. To that end, employers play a significant role and bear a large responsibility for appropriately implementing the provisions of the ADA. This is a great time to review both your employment policies and practices to ensure compliance with ADA and state disabilities laws. To learn more about this and other changes in the law, please join us at a Barran Liebman seminar.