In 2008, Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). This past spring, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) published the final ADAAA regulations. Since the passage of the ADAAA and the publication of the regulations, administrative agencies and courts have seen a steady increase in the number of disability claims filed. For instance, in the 2007 fiscal year (the last year before passage of the ADAAA), there were 17,734 charges of discrimination filed that included disability discrimination claims. In the 2011 fiscal year, that number rose to 25,282 charges.
The increase in “association discrimination” claims is of particular interest. These claims are brought by employees who allege to be victims of an adverse employment decision based not on their own disability, but on their relationship with someone who has a disability. Association discrimination claims generally fall into one of three categories: