This is a new section of the ADA that has already caused a lot of litigation. It is actually a very fair law for the employees. Originally, the ADA had three requirements for what was a protected disability, which was that the employee:
1. must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
2. must have a record of such an impairment; and,
3. is regarded as having such an impairment or disability.
The new section of the ADA also includes employees who have a relationship or an association with an individual who has a disability. This new piece of the law protects an employee from being terminated because of his or her association with a disabled person. This usually applies when the disabled person is the spouse or child of the employee and the employee has the benefit of health insurance from his or her employer. The relationship with the disabled person causes the health care costs to rise for this employee and employers are anxious to cut rising expenses.
So far there has been only one serious case to test this law. The judge in that case also looked at the employer’s repeated inquiries into the health of the dependent and suggestions that the employee look for another health care insurance. This is a to-be-watched issue that may finally bring some fairness to the employee who is not only a caregiver but provides the health care insurance through the employer.