Employers and Disability Advocates Laud Amendments to Landmark Americans with Disabilities Act

Media 06.25,08

Washington, DC – Over the last several weeks an unusual alliance of employers, civil rights and disability advocates joined with a bipartisan group of members of the House to negotiate amendments to the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.

Leaders from the two communities issued the following statements on today’s expected passage of the ADA Amendments Act:

“People with disabilities want to work and want to be treated fairly in the workplace.  We are delighted see the House vote in overwhelming bipartisan numbers to pass a bill today that will work well for disabled people and for their employers.” – American Association of People with Disabilities President and CEO Andrew Imparato [Press contact: Mariana Nork (202) 457-0046]

“This legislation represents the first major step in overturning court decisions that have eroded the rights of persons with disabilities.  We are particularly pleased that a court ruling that thinking, communicating and social interaction of a person with an intellectual disability were not major life activities under the ADA will be decidedly overturned.”  – The Arc of the United States Executive Director, Peter Berns [Press contact: Laura Hart (301)565-3842]

“On behalf of the nearly 24 million Americans with diabetes, I applaud the bi-partisan support of this legislation. People with diabetes and other chronic illnesses need to manage their disease and not be discriminated against for it.” – American Diabetes Association CEO Larry Hausner [Press contact: Shana Starkand (703) 549-1500 ext. 2622]

“We are extremely pleased that the House has passed this much-needed legislation to restore the protections that people with disabilities fought hard to obtain.  For too many people, these protections have been a dream rather than a reality.” – Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law Deputy Legal Director Jennifer Mathis [Press contact: Lee Carty (202) 467-5730 ext. 121]

“We have been negotiating with representatives of the disability community for months and after rigorous debate and compromise we have reached a solid agreement. Is it perfect, no, but as is often said, perfect can be the enemy of the good. This is good change for America and we urge Congress to pass this legislation now.” – U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue [Press contact: Eric Wohlschlegel (202) 463-5682]

“The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) urges all Members to vote for passage of the ADA Amendments Act today.  This is important legislation to ensure that people with disabilities are protected against discrimination as intended by enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  We applaud the work of the bill’s sponsors and the Education and Labor and Judiciary Committees which have considered this bill.”  – Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Chairperson Marty Ford [Press contact: Annie Acosta (202) 783-2229]

“We’re pleased to see the House pass this bill intended to restore protections under the ADA — prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities and providing millions of Americans the chance to participate fully in American life. Nearly 20 years ago, Congress made a major contribution to the lives of people with disabilities by enacting the landmark ADA, helping to fulfill Easter Seals mission to ensure that people living with autism and other disabilities have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play.”
Easter Seals President and Chief Executive Officer, James E. Williams, Jr. [Press contact: Kristen Barnfield (312) 551-7147]

“Over the last decade, the promises and protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act have dissolved for too many people with epilepsy. We are proud to have joined Congress and representatives from the disability, faith, veterans, civil rights and business community to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act and help ensure that people with disabilities, who are willing and able to work, can do so with the confidence that they are protected in the manner in which Congress intended.” – Epilepsy Foundation president and CEO Eric R. Hargis [Press contact: Kimberli Meadows (301) 520-6656]

“The House bill represents a true compromise between leading employer and disability groups after many months of productive negotiations. At a time when many contentious employment policy issues are in play, it is very encouraging to see the affected parties engaged in a dialogue rather than a debate in tackling an extremely delicate matter. We appreciate the willingness of the disability community to work on a mutual solution that could garner strong bipartisan support.” – HR Policy Association Employment Rights Committee Chair and Northwestern Mutual Vice President of Human Resources Sue Lueger [Press contact Mary Hornig (202) 789-8670].

“The passage of the ADA Amendments Act is the most significant civil rights accomplishment of the 110th Congress. The fact that the business community, disability community and broader civil rights community have come together to work with members from both sides of the aisle is a testament to the power of coalition politics.” – Leadership Conference on Civil Rights President & CEO Wade Henderson [Press contact: Maggie Kao (202) 466-2735]

“When employer and civil rights advocates collaborate to pass legislation in this era of partisan wrangling, that is something to celebrate.  Remarkably, that is what happened today with passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This is a practical issue for employers who urgently need qualified workers to fill vacancies – and it’s also the right thing to do.  No one intended for this law to exclude qualified individuals who want to work from receiving appropriate protections.” – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO John Engler [Press contact: Laura Narvaiz (202) 637-3104]

“As the leading national grassroots cross-disability organization, NCIL applauds Majority Leader Hoyer, Representative Sensenbrenner, and the more than 250 cosponsors of the ADA Amendments Act for their leadership in reversing the misguided Supreme Court and lower court decisions that have denied so many Americans with disabilities their civil rights and the opportunity to work. Now, let’s continue to work together with our colleagues in the business community to pass H.R. 3195 in the House and Senate!” – National Council on Independent Living Executive Director John Lancaster [Press contact: Deborah Cotter (202) 207-0334, ext. 1008]

“There is a sense of urgency that millions of Americans with disabilities are not now protected by the ADA. This legislation, supported by both the disability and business communities, will once again help people with disabilities join and remain in the workforce.“ – National Disability Rights Network Executive Director Curt Decker [Press contact: Matt Hayden (202) 408-9514, ext. 128]

“The National Multiple Sclerosis Society makes it a priority to address the challenges of each person whose life is affected by MS. Many people living with MS manage their symptoms with disease modifying therapies to help prevent or ease their disability. Those medications can give the perception that someone is fully functional, leading some employers to erroneously deny them their ADA protections. The Society supports the ADA Amendments Act to help preserve protections for people with disabilities under the ADA and reverse restrictive judicial decisions that have left people with MS unprotected from job discrimination.” – National Multiple Sclerosis Society President and CEO Joyce Nelson [Press contact:  Tara Raeber (202) 408-1500]

“The employer and disabilities communities are united behind the ADA Amendments Act.  This legislation will strengthen the ADA by protecting those individuals most in need, and correcting court interpretations that have limited coverage for many persons with disabilities.  The bill’s broad, bipartisan support and swift progress in Congress are testaments to its balanced and responsible approach.” – Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) President and CEO Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR [Press contact: Samantha Anderson (773) 456-1456]

“United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) joins the chorus of disability and business organizations supporting the ADA Amendments Act. This bill truly advances the interests of all persons with disabilities in America and UCP strongly urges the Congress and Bush Administration to pass it this year.” – United Cerebral Palsy President and CEO Stephen Bennett [Press Contact: Liz Reitz (202)973-7114]