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NCD issues report assessing the impact of 2008’s ADA Amendments Act

July 25th, 2013  |  Deborah Hammonds

A report analyzing the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments of 2008 (ADAAA) was released by the National Council on Disability (NCD) earlier this week. The report, “A Promising Start: Preliminary Analysis of Court Decisions Under the ADA Amendments Act,” grew out of NCD’s recognition of a need for review and analysis of court decisions rendered under the ADAAA to determine whether the Amendments Act was achieving its intended goals.

NCD’s report offers findings and recommendations based on analysis of the court decisions made under the ADAAA by examining decisions rendered under ADA amendments that were agreed on across both sides of the aisle in Congress. Using this measure, NCD found it clear that the ADAAA has made a significant positive difference for plaintiffs in ADA lawsuits thus far.

For example, in six of the seven Circuit Court decisions in which the provisions of the ADAAA were applied, the plaintiff prevailed on establishing a disability; and in the district court decisions analyzed plaintiffs prevailed on the showing of disability in more than three out of four decisions – a promising start and a substantial improvement over pre-ADAAA decisions under the broad scope of coverage under the ADA that Congress intended.  However, many cases are still dismissed on procedural grounds before the alleged discriminatory conduct of the employer is ever addressed. In an attempt to correct this concern, NCD’s report includes recommendations on guidance and technical assistance to address some of these procedural issues.

“Thorough review of case law in the decisions rendered to date strongly affirms the positive difference the ADAAA has made for plaintiffs in discrimination cases,” said Jeff Rosen, NCD Chairperson in a July 23 statement. “While the possibility of undermining the intent of Congress when passing the ADA amendments five years ago remains, what we have seen thus far demonstrates a definite improvement over previous case law.”

NCD is an independent federal agency that advices the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policy. The report can be found on agency’s website.