An amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act may significantly increase ADA-related claims and lawsuits against employers, according to Business and Legal Reports Inc., a compliance information services company. The amendment will become effective Jan. 1, 2009.

"The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment (ADAA) provides broader protections for disabled workers and turns back the clock on Supreme Court rulings deemed too restrictive of disabled employees' rights," said Catherine L. Moreton, JD, managing editor for HR and Compensation at BLR. "The bottom line is that more employees will fit within the definition of disabled under the ADA and unless employers are prepared they will significantly increase their risk of lawsuits."

According to BLR's summary of the amendment "more employees will be covered and in many cases, conditions will be covered for disabilities that are not readily apparent to employers." The company recommends interactive discussion with employees to determine what, if any, accommodations are necessary, and to focus on training supervisors.

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