ADAAA Impact

September 1st, 2011 by JBWK

A recent decision from the federal court in the Western District of Virginia highlights an important issue arising from the 2008 ADA Amendments Act. A former employee alleged her former employer fired her after finding out she was dyslexic. She sued, claiming the employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ADA has always prohibited employment discrimination based on a perceived disability. But before the 2008 ADA Amendments Act, an employee had to show not only that the employer perceived her as having a disability, but also that the perceived disability substantially limited one or more of the employee’s “major life activities.” However, the 2008 ADA Amendments Act changed this standard: an employee now only has to show that he or she has been subjected to an illegal act under the ADA based on his or her perceived disability, regardless of whether the employer views the perceived disability as limiting a major life activity.

The court in this case noted that the former employee’s ADA claims would have made it past summary judgment but for the fact that she was fired in 2008, before the ADA Amendments Act became effective. It therefore dismissed her claim.

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