EEOC, DOJ Start Town Halls on ADA Changes

They want feedback on proposed regulations to implement the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, which makes it easier for individuals to establish they have a disability covered by the law.

EEOC's proposed regulations implementing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) will be discussed in four Town Hall Listening Sessions starting today. Held jointly by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, the events are an attempt to hear from employers and the disability and disability advocacy communities on the proposed regulations. They'll be a perfect opportunity because the top officials will be present, according to EEOC's notice, which said the sessions will be presided over by EEOC's acting chairman, Stuart J. Ishimaru, Acting Vice Chair Christine Griffin, and Commissioner Constance S. Barker; and by DOJ's deputy assistant attorney general for Civil Rights, Samuel Bagenstos, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Mazen Baswari, and Chief of the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division John Wodatch.

The sessions will be held today in Oakland, Calif.; Oct. 30 in Philadelphia; Nov. 17 in Chicago; and Nov. 20 in New Orleans. Each session will go from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Here are the contacts for more information or to register as a speaker:

1. Oakland: Ms. Linda Li at 415-625-5618 (TTY 415-625-5610) or Linda.Li@eeoc.gov
2. Philadelphia: Ms. Mary Tiernan at 215-440-2671 (TTY 215-440-2610) or Mary.Tiernan@eeoc.gov
3. Chicago: Ms. Rita Coffey at 312-353-7254 (TTY 312-353-2421) or Rita.Coffey@eeoc.gov
4. New Orleans: Ms. Maple Thomas at 504-595-2827 (TTY 504-595-2958) or Maple.Thomas@eeoc.gov

The proposed ADA changes will make it easier for an individual seeking protection under the law to establish he or she has a disability covered by the law. Significantly, the ADAAA expands the definition of "major life activities" by adding activities EEOC has not specifically recognized, such as reading, bending, and communicating; it includes "functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions"; and it says mitigating measures other than "ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses" shall not be considered in assessing whether an individual has a disability.

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