Implementing EEOC Rule for ADA Changes Stalls

December 16, 2008 ( - Issuing of a regulatory rule implementing amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) apparently ground to a halt at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

A news report from Thompson Publishing Group said the four-member commission recently voted down the EEOC’s proposed regulations designed to give employers and others guidance about putting the ADA changes into practice when they become effective January 1.

Commissioners declared themselves “at a stalemate” over the issue, according to the Thompson report.   

Commission chair Naomi C. Earp said she had hoped to issue the document as an interim final rule, but ultimately opted to issue the regulations as a Notice of Proposed Rule Making under pressure from disability community interest groups, Thompson reported.

When Earp presented that option to the commission, according to the report, the vote ultimately failed on a split 2-2 party-line vote.

President Bush signed the ADA Amendments Act into law in late September (see Bush Pens ADA Change Bill into Law ). Among other things, the bill— approved unanimously by both the Senate and the House—adds definitions of “substantially limits” and “major life activity” to the law, according to Thompson

In addition, the bill (S.3406)   instructs courts that the “question of whether an individual’s impairment is a disability under the ADA should not demand extensive analysis.” The new law provides a list of activities that constitute major life activities.