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Appendix to 29 CFR Part 1630—Interpretive Guidance on Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act

Sections 1630.2(j)(5) and (6)   Examples of Mitigating Measures; Ordinary Eyeglasses or Contact Lenses

These provisions of the regulations provide numerous examples of mitigating measures and the definition of “ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses.” These definitions have been more fully discussed in the portions of this interpretive guidance concerning the rules of construction in §1630.2(j)(1).

Substantially Limited in Working

The Commission has removed from the text of the regulations a discussion of the major life activity of working. This is consistent with the fact that no other major life activity receives special attention in the regulation, and with the fact that, in light of the expanded definition of disability established by the Amendments Act, this major life activity will be used in only very targeted situations.

In most instances, an individual with a disability will be able to establish coverage by showing substantial limitation of a major life activity other than working; impairments that substantially limit a person's ability to work usually substantially limit one or more other major life activities. This will be particularly true in light of the changes made by the ADA Amendments Act. See, e.g., Corley v. Dep't of Veterans Affairs ex rel Principi, 218 F. App'x. 727, 738 (10th Cir. 2007) (employee with seizure disorder was not substantially limited in working because he was not foreclosed from jobs involving driving, operating machinery, childcare, military service, and other jobs; employee would now be substantially limited in neurological function); Olds v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 127 F. App'x. 779, 782 (6th Cir. 2005) (employee with bone marrow cancer was not substantially limited in working due to lifting restrictions caused by his cancer; employee would now be substantially limited in normal cell growth); Williams v. Philadelphia Hous. Auth. Police Dep't, 380 F.3d 751, 763-64 (3d Cir. 2004) (issue of material fact concerning whether police officer's major depression substantially limited him in performing a class of jobs due to restrictions on his ability to carry a firearm; officer would now be substantially limited in brain function).2

2In addition, many cases previously analyzed in terms of whether the plaintiff was “substantially limited in working” will now be analyzed under the “regarded as” prong of the definition of disability as revised by the Amendments Act. See, e.g., Cannon v. Levi Strauss & Co., 29 F. App'x. 331 (6th Cir. 2002) (factory worker laid off due to her carpal tunnel syndrome not regarded as substantially limited in working because her job of sewing machine operator was not a “broad class of jobs”; she would now be protected under the third prong because she was fired because of her impairment, carpal tunnel syndrome); Bridges v. City of Bossier, 92 F.3d 329 (5th Cir. 1996) (applicant not hired for firefighting job because of his mild hemophilia not regarded as substantially limited in working; applicant would now be protected under the third prong because he was not hired because of his impairment, hemophilia).

In the rare cases where an individual has a need to demonstrate that an impairment substantially limits him or her in working, the individual can do so by showing that the impairment substantially limits his or her ability to perform a class of jobs or broad range of jobs in various classes as compared to most people having comparable training, skills, and abilities. In keeping with the findings and purposes of the Amendments Act, the determination of coverage under the law should not require extensive and elaborate assessment, and the EEOC and the courts are to apply a lower standard in determining when an impairment substantially limits a major life activity, including the major life activity of working, than they applied prior to the Amendments Act. The Commission believes that the courts, in applying an overly strict standard with regard to “substantially limits” generally, have reached conclusions with regard to what is necessary to demonstrate a substantial limitation in the major life activity of working that would be inconsistent with the changes now made by the Amendments Act. Accordingly, as used in this section the terms “class of jobs” and “broad range of jobs in various classes” will be applied in a more straightforward and simple manner than they were applied by the courts prior to the Amendments Act.3

3In analyzing working as a major life activity in the past, some courts have imposed a complex and onerous standard that would be inappropriate under the Amendments Act. See, e.g., Duncan v. WMATA, 240 F.3d 1110, 1115 (DC Cir. 2001) (manual laborer whose back injury prevented him from lifting more than 20 pounds was not substantially limited in working because he did not present evidence of the number and types of jobs available to him in the Washington area; testimony concerning his inquiries and applications for truck driving jobs that all required heavy lifting was insufficient); Taylor v. Federal Express Corp., 429 F.3d 461, 463-64 (4th Cir. 2005) (employee's impairment did not substantially limit him in working because, even though evidence showed that employee's injury disqualified him from working in numerous jobs in his geographic region, it also showed that he remained qualified for many other jobs). Under the Amendments Act, the determination of whether a person is substantially limited in working is more straightforward and simple than it was prior to the Act.

Demonstrating a substantial limitation in performing the unique aspects of a single specific job is not sufficient to establish that a person is substantially limited in the major life activity of working.

A class of jobs may be determined by reference to the nature of the work that an individual is limited in performing (such as commercial truck driving, assembly line jobs, food service jobs, clerical jobs, or law enforcement jobs) or by reference to job-related requirements that an individual is limited in meeting (for example, jobs requiring repetitive bending, reaching, or manual tasks, jobs requiring repetitive or heavy lifting, prolonged sitting or standing, extensive walking, driving, or working under conditions such as high temperatures or noise levels).

For example, if a person whose job requires heavy lifting develops a disability that prevents him or her from lifting more than fifty pounds and, consequently, from performing not only his or her existing job but also other jobs that would similarly require heavy lifting, that person would be substantially limited in working because he or she is substantially limited in performing the class of jobs that require heavy lifting.