WASHINGTON (11/26/08)—Recent changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can affect a credit union’s operations. Do know how, quizzes the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Compliance Challenge
. In September, President George W. Bush signed the ADA Amendments Act into law, and it takes effect Jan. 1. The new law covers some individuals who were not previously protected under the country’s disability statutes. Therefore, CUNA compliance experts advise credit unions to consult an experienced human resources professional to determine the law’s potential impact on handling their employee’s accommodation requests under the ADA. Here’s some information that will help you go into that meeting well-informed: The ADA defines "disability" as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more . . . major life activities," or "a record of" or "being regarded as having such an impairment." It prohibits employment-related discrimination "against a qualified individual with a disability," one "who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions" of the position in question. The ADA Amendments Act:
* Broadens the scope of protection available to employees by rejecting two United States Supreme Court decisions that had narrowly construed the definition of “disability” under the ADA; * Clarifies three critical terms in the ADA's definition of "disability" ("substantially limits," "major life activities," and "regarded as" having such impairment) and the standards that must be applied when considering the definition of disability. For example, the law requires courts to broadly interpret what is considered a "disability" under the Act; * Includes specific examples of “major life activities,” such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, etc.; and expands the term to include bodily functions; * Clarifies that an impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active; * Prohibits consideration of the effects of mitigating measures such as medication, assistive technology, reasonable accommodations, or modifications when determining if an impairment constitutes a disability, excluding ordinary eyeglasses and contact lenses; and * Requires the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to amend its regulations to implement the definitions in the Act.
However, CUNA’s compliance folks say, that’s just the surface of the law. Use the resource links below for more information.