Changes To The ADA And The FMLA – What They Might Mean For You

            The ADA Amendments Act took effect on January 1.  It overturns a series of Supreme Court cases, expands the number of workers who are considered disabled under the ADA, and increases the number of employers that must make reasonable accommodations for these employees.

            The ADA defines a “disability,” in part, as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”  The changes emphasize that this statute should be broadly interpreted to cover more individuals.

            The amendments don’t allow consideration of the beneficial effects of mitigating measures such as medications or prosthetics when deciding whether an individual has a disability (there is an exception for eyeglasses or contact lenses).

            The new law shifts the focus of litigation from whether an employee is disabled, thus allowing more plaintiffs to be considered disabled, to whether there was discrimination in the workplace. 

          The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.


            New revisions to the regulations implementing the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 take effect on January 16.

            The revised rule makes a host of changes to what employers and employees must do to fulfill the requirements of the FMLA.  Again, seek a good employment law attorney to sort it all out.

            The complications, time, and expense involved in these changes highlight the simple fact that small businesses are disproportionally impacted by federal regulations. 

            Repeatedly we see regulations written with big business in mind.  If the Regulatory Flexibility Act were strictly followed, the impact of regulations on small businesses would be considered as well.  In our view, that’s what is most important.


— Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel