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AARP Lauds New Regulations That Will Help Protect Millions of Americans with Disabilities from Discrimination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 24, 2011

CONTACT: AARP Media Relations, 202-434-2560

AARP Lauds New Regulations That Will Help Protect Millions of Americans with Disabilities from Discrimination

Seen as Victory for Workers with Disabilities, Economy

Washington, DC – AARP lauded the final federal regulations issued today under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), saying that they will reinvigorate the law after a series of unfortunate Supreme Court decisions which served to weaken disability protections.

“The new regulations will shift the focus of ADA cases to where it should be:  whether the worker was discriminated against, rather than whether the worker has a “disability” within the meaning of the law,” said David Sloane, Senior Vice President of AARP Government Relations and Advocacy department.

Over the last decade, a string of Supreme Court decisions had weakened the ADA’s protections against workplace discrimination by narrowly construing the definition of “disability,” and what constitutes a “substantial limitation” in “major life activities.” What this meant was that workers with disabilities – or a record of disability or an employer who perceived them as having a disability, all grounds for invoking the ADA – spent their resources and time proving they were covered by the ADA in the first place, rather than proving that they were discriminated against.

Congress, in a bipartisan effort supported by AARP, disability rights and business-community advocates, sought to erase these barriers by enacting the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Those amendments and now these regulations ensure broadened coverage for victims of disability-based stereotypes and discrimination.  “Equal opportunity for older workers and workers with disabilities of all ages is a victory for the American economy as well,” said Sloane.

The ADA is a federal civil rights law intended to ensure equal opportunity for persons with disabilities and encompasses a number of areas of interest to AARP, including employment, long-term care, and other public services for people with disabilities.  The fact is that a disproportionate number of workers discriminated against on the basis of disability – or perceived disability, or a record of disability – are older.  Fifty percent of all workers with a condition impairing their ability to work are 45 and older, and the aging of the American workforce is likely to increase the number and proportion of employees with disabilities.

Now that the ADA regulations have been finalized, AARP called on the EEOC to finalize other proposed rules critical to fair treatment of older workers, especially long-pending proposed rules on employer practices that appear neutral on their face but have a disproportionately adverse impact on older workers.

“The EEOC’s disparate impact regulations are vitally important to ensure that older workers have this tool for fighting age-neutral employer practices that cause the same harm as patterns of intentional age discrimination in the workplace,” said Sloane.  “They should be the Commission’s next top priority.”

For more information, please contact AARP Media Relations at (202) 434-2560 or visit www.aarp.org.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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