(Washington, D.C.) – The National Restaurant Association commended the U.S. House of Representatives for today’s passage of The ADA Amendments Act, H.R. 3195. The Association supported the legislation, a product of bipartisan negotiation, which passed by an overwhelming vote of 402-17.
H.R. 3195 clarifies the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so that any person who has a mental or physical impairment that restricts major life functions is entitled to protections. The bill is the fruit of a bipartisan compromise reached after extensive negotiation and represents a distinct improvement over initial versions of the legislation. The National Restaurant Association has been working with a group of business organizations and disability groups in the successful effort to find a middle ground on this bill and reach a suitable compromise.
“We are gratified that both the business and disabled communities were able to reach a compromise that both sides can support,” said John Gay, senior vice president of government affairs and public policy for the National Restaurant Association. “While we remain concerned that the bill might result in an increase in lawsuits brought under the ADA, this agreement represents a vast improvement over original proposals. In particular, the compromise preserves with only slight modification the definition of disability and retains the requirement that an individual must demonstrate that he or she is qualified for the job.
“We commend the House for this bipartisan vote and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner for their strong leadership,” said Gay. “The Americans with Disabilities Act provides important protections for employees and those seeking employment. This bipartisan compromise goes a long way to ensuring that efforts to broaden the original legislation do not cause significant harm to employers and recognizes many of the unintended consequences of greatly expanding the ADA.”
Current law requires a disability to “substantially limit a major life activity,” such as walking or seeing. Initial versions of the proposed ADA expansion were inconsistent with Congressional intent expressed when the law was passed in 1990, diminishing the concept of disability and inappropriately diverting employer resources from those who need them most. The original bill would have dramatically changed what constitutes a protected impairment under the ADA, with coverage for illnesses such as a head cold or the flu.
The legislation now moves to the U.S. Senate for approval.