Congress did not intend for the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) to be retroactive, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled yesterday, and applied pre-ADAAA law to dismiss an employment discrimination claim. Click here to read the court's decision in Lytes v. DC Water and Sewer Authority.
Congress passed the ADAAA in 2008 and the new law became effective January 1, 2009. The ADAAA significantly expanded the definition of "disabled" under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Lytes court reviewed the legislative history of the ADAAA, and could not find in that history any indication that Congress intended the law to apply retroactively. The court also noted that Congress signaled its intend that the law not apply retroactively when it gave the ADAAA a specific effective date.
The DC Circuit joins the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which also ruled in EEOC v. Agro Distribution, LLC that the ADAAA is not retroactive. Notably, the Department of Labor has also taken the position that the law should not apply retroactively. And, at least for now, it appears that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agrees.
Lytes and Agro Distribution are important cases for employers defending ADA claims; they make clear that for claims arising before January 1, 2009, pre-ADAAA standards of what constitutes a "disability" are likely to apply. For more information on the ADAAA, click here for the Stoel Rives World of Employment's ADAAA coverage.