[JURIST] The US House voted 402-17 [roll call] to approve the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 [HR 3195 materials] Wednesday. The bill makes it easier for employees with mental or physical handicaps to prove they are victims of workplace or hiring discrimination. Bill co-sponsor Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) [official website] said that the new legislation closed gaps in the law [press release; floor statement, recorded video] that denied protections to workers with many handicaps, including epilepsy and diabetes. Bill co-sponsor Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-WI) [official website; press release] said the bill was necessary because the Supreme Court interpreted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [official website] in an overly restrictive manner in Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc. v. Williams [opinion] in 2002, severely limiting the range of handicaps that qualified for protection. The Senate is expected to pass similar legislation. President George W. Bush has expressed concern that the bill could lead to excessive litigation. The New York Times has more.
The US is one of only 45 countries in the world with disability legislation, having adopted the ADA in 1990. In 2006, the UN General Assembly Wednesday adopted by acclamation an international treaty on the rights of persons with disabilities [official website; JURIST report]. The US said that it would not sign [New Standard report] the international accord, insisting that US domestic measures on the federal, state and local levels are already adequate for the purpose.