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EEOC Declines to Adopt Clear Rule as to Duration of Qualifying ADA Disability

    Client Alerts
  • July 24, 2009

In its recent presentation of regulations implementing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission staff indicated its intent not to adopt duration standards for qualifying disabilities suggested by employers.  Under the ADA, a qualifying condition does not have to be permanent, but must be more than "transitory and minor."  Employers wanted the EEOC to propose a rule stating that the impairment must last a minimum of six months in duration to qualify as an ADA disability.

In its presentation to the full Commission, staff explained its rejection of this proposal.  The EEOC intends to make clear that impairments lasting only a few months in duration can still be substantially limiting.  This decision, if included in the final rules, will mean that numerous short-term impairments will now qualify as ADA disabilities, triggering accommodation requirements.  For example, pregnancy complications may very well last several months, impairing one or more of the mother's major life or bodily functions.

Employers will need to understand that unless over in a matter of weeks, the short duration of the medical condition will not defeat a claim that the impairment is an ADA disability.  The proposed ADAAA rules are expected to be issued in proposed form for notice and comment later in the year.