ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA)
Layton City is committed to the fair and equal employment of individuals with disabilities. It is Layton City’s policy to reasonably accommodate qualified individuals with disabilities unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the organization. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities ADA (ADA) as amended, reasonable accommodations will be provided to qualified individuals with disabilities when such accommodations are necessary to enable them to perform the essential functions of their jobs or to enjoy the equal benefits and privileges of employment. This policy applies to all applicants for employment and all employees.
The ADAAA significantly expands the original ADA to protect more individuals with less severe impairments, with an effective date of January 1, 2009.
The ADA defines a disability as: (1) having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life functions; (2) having a record of such impairment; or (3) being regarded as having such an impairment. The ADAAA expands the meaning of this definition to provide “broad coverage” for individuals under the Act. A “qualified person with a disability” means an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job.
Where the ADA was silent on what constitutes a major life activity, the ADAAA specifies that major life activities include, but are not limited to: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
The ADAAA also adds a new major life activity category – major bodily functions, which includes but is not limited to: functions of the immune system, cell growth, digestive, bladder, and bowel functions, neurological and brain functions, respiratory and circulatory functions, endocrine functions, and reproductive functions.
Impairments that are episodic or in remission qualify as covered disabilities if they would substantially limit a major life activity when active. Impairments also qualify as a disability if they substantially limit one major life activity; an impairment no longer needs to limit other major life activities to be considered a protected disability.
Current EEOC guidance defines the term “substantially limits” to mean “significantly restricted”.
The term “regarded as” was not defined in the ADA. Courts subsequently ruled that to succeed with a “regarded as” claim, employees needed to prove that their employer regarded them as being substantially limited in a major life activity. Now, under the ADAAA, an employee only needs to demonstrate that they were subjected to prohibited action because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment, regardless of whether the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity. Two important stipulations are:
- Impairments that are “transitory and minor” cannot form the basis of a “regarded as” claim. A transitory impairment is one with an actual or expected duration of six months or less; and
- Employers do not have to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are “regarded as” disabled, unless the employee satisfies another part of the definition of disability, i.e., has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity or a record of such an impairment.
In 1999, the Supreme Court interpreted the ADA to require the consideration of mitigating measures when determining whether an individual has a protected disability. The ADAAA nullifies this, stating that the determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures (with the exception of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses.) The ADAAA prohibits employers from using qualification standards, employment tests, and other selection criteria based on an individual’s uncorrected vision, unless the standard, test, or other selection criteria, as used by the employer, is shown to be job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity. In most situations, individuals required to take a vision test must be permitted to use their corrective lenses.
The ADAAA specifies that an individual without a disability has no basis for a claim that they were discriminated against because of their lack of a disability.
The ADAAA states that “the primary objective of attention in cases brought under the ADA should be whether entities covered under the ADA have complied with their obligations.” The question of whether an individual’s impairment is a qualified disability is secondary. Layton City should, therefore, shift the majority of their focus away from determining whether an employee has a protected disability to ensuring that it has adequately engaged in the interactive and accommodation processes. This is not to say that the City should accommodate every person who claims to have an impairment. Accommodations will only be offered when reasonable. Unreasonable accommodations are those that pose an undue hardship on the City, create a direct health or safety threat, or fail to help the employee successfully perform their essential job functions at the same level as employees without disabilities.
It is the policy of Layton City not to discriminate on the basis of disability in the provision of services, activities, and programs and to provide grievance procedures for individuals seeking relief from conditions that create barriers to individuals with disabilities in accordance with the ADA and ADAAA.
As provided for by the ADA, Layton City retains its right to hire the best-qualified applicants. However, ADA and the ADAAA protect the rights of qualified applicants and employees who can perform the essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodations. Additionally, Layton City shall provide known and needed reasonable accommodations unless undue hardship is demonstrated as a result of expense or modification.
There are three types of reasonable accommodations that may be considered:
- Changes to the job application process so that a qualified applicant with a disability will receive equal consideration for the job opportunity;
- Modifications to the work environment so that the qualified individual with a disability can perform the essential functions of the job; or
- Adjustments that will allow a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy the same benefits and privileges of employment as other similarly situated employees without disabilities.
Employees with disabilities have the responsibility to notify the City about the need for job accommodation. All managers and supervisors should consult with HR and the City Attorney’s office whenever an employee requests an accommodation.
For each position, the job description typically will identify essential job functions. The Human Resource Department will generally review job descriptions on a periodic basis to evaluate job functions designated as essential. If there are any questions about the job requirements, they should be directed to your supervisor, HR, or the City Attorney’s office.
ADA Grievance Guidelines
The purpose of these guidelines is to promote open relations with individuals in the community and the City organization, settle grievances as near as possible to the point of origin, and review grievances with fairness and reasonable informality.
The City has designated the Human Resources Officer to function as the ADA Coordinator to assist any individuals with ADA grievance procedures.
- All grievances regarding access to and benefit from City services, activities, and programs shall be filed in writing with the City's ADA Coordinator. All information obtained concerning the medical condition or history of an applicant or employee will be treated as confidential information, maintained in separate medical files, and disclosed only as permitted by law.
- Within three (3) working days, the ADA Coordinator should forward a copy of the grievance to the appropriate Department Director together with any input or suggestions the Coordinator may have regarding the grievance.
- Within ten (10) working days of receiving the grievance, the Department Director should investigate the grievance and determine what action, if any, should be taken. The Department Director should within the same period provide written notice of his or her decision to the ADA Coordinator and the person filing the grievance.
- If the person filing the grievance is not satisfied with the decision of the Department Director, he or she may appeal the decision in writing to the City Manager. The request for an appeal may be filed with the ADA Coordinator or with the City Manager's Office.
- Within ten (10) days of receiving an appeal to the decision of a Department Director, the City Manager should complete an investigation of the grievance and should notify the appellant and the ADA Coordinator of the action, if any, to be taken. The decision of the City Manager shall be final and binding.
It is the policy of Layton City to prohibit any harassment of, or discriminatory treatment of, employees on the basis of a disability or because an employee has requested a reasonable accommodation. If an employee feels he or she has been subject to such treatment, or has witnessed such treatment, the situation should be reported using the harassment complaint procedure (see policy 3502). Any employee found to have engaged in retaliation against an employee for making a request for reasonable accommodation under this policy, registering a complaint under this procedure, or for assisting in the investigation of any registered complaint will be subject to immediate disciplinary action up to and including termination.