Legislative Intent, Rules of Construction, and Judicial Interpretation of the

Definition of Disability in the ADA, as amended by the ADAAA

The primary purpose of the ADA Amendments Act (“ADAAA”)[1] was to make it easier for people with disabilities to obtain protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).[2] The following articles were selected[3] to assist plaintiffs, lawyers, courts, and activists in understanding Congressional intent, agency guidance, and judicial interpretations regarding the threshold issue of establishing disability under the ADA, as amended by the ADAAA.

Chai Feldblum, Kevin Barry, & Emily Benfer, The ADA Amendments Act of 2008, 13 Tex. J. on C.L. & C.R. 187 (2008). Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2145409.

Kevin Barry:

Exactly What Congress Intended? 17 Employee Rts. & Emp. Pol'y J. 5 (2013). Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2240043.

Chasing the Unicorn: Anti-Subordination and the ADAAA, 14 Conn. Pub. Int. L.J. 207 (2015). Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2692257.

Toward Universalism: What the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 Can and Can’t Do for Disability Rights, 31 Berkeley J. Emp. & Lab. L. 203 (2010). Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1647134.

Kevin Barry, Brian East, & Marcy Karin, Pleading Disability After the ADAAA, 31 Hofstra Lab. & Emp. L.J. 1 (2013). Available at: http://scholarlycommons.law.hofstra.edu/hlelj/vol31/iss1/1.

Tory Beardsley & Marcy Karin, ASU Work-Life Law and Policy Clinic, Survey Highlights--Pleading Disability under the ADA:  Takeaways from the Second Circuit (March 31, 2014).  Available at: https://adalawproject.org/s/2dCirResearch.pdf.

Heather Peláez & Marcy Karin, ASU Work-Life Law and Policy Clinic, Survey Highlights--Pleading Disability under the ADA:  Takeaways from the Fifth Circuit (March 31, 2014).  Available at:  https://adalawproject.org/s/5thCirResearch.pdf.

 Christine Bolton & Marcy Karin, ASU Work-Life Law and Policy Clinic, Survey Highlights--Pleading Disability under the ADA:  Takeaways from the Ninth Circuit (March 31, 2014).  Available at: https://adalawproject.org/s/9thCirResearch.pdf.

 Stephen F. Befort:

 Let’s Try This Again: The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 Attempts to Reinvigorate the “Regarded as” Prong of the Statutory Definition of Disability, Symposium: Disability Discrimination after the ADA Amendments of 2008, 2010 Utah L. Rev. 993. Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1576503.

 An Empirical Examination of Case Outcomes under the ADA Amendments Act, 70 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 2027 (2013). Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2314628.

Nicole Buonocore Porter, The New ADA Backlash, 82 Tenn. L. Rev. 1 (2014). Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2399724.

Anita Silvers & Leslie Francis, An Americans with Disabilities Act for Everyone, and for the Ages as Well, 39 Cardozo L. Rev. 669 (2017). Available at: http://cardozolawreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/SILVERS.FRANCIS.39.2.pdf.

Michelle A. Travis:

 Disqualifying Universality under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, 2015 Mich. St. L. Rev. 1689 (2015). Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2607330.

 Impairment as Protected Status: A New Universality for Disability Rights, 46 Georgia Law Rev. 937 (2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1948267

 Michael E. Waterstone, Disability Constitutional Law, 63 Emory L.J. 527 (2014). Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2247004.

 Deborah A. Widiss, Still Kickin' after All These Years: Sutton and Toyota as Shadow Precedents, 63 Drake L. Rev. 919 (2015). Available at: https://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/facpub/1671/.


[1] Pub. L. No. 110-325, 122 Stat. 3553 (Sep. 25, 2008).  

[2] 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.

[3] This Helpful Commentary does not purport to be a comprehensive literature review. Readers should treat this section as a starting point for gaining an understanding of the definition of disability in the ADA, as amended by the ADAAA. There are many excellent articles about other aspects of the ADA, such as reasonable accommodations, that are beyond the scope of this section.