Oregon Senate Bill 874 – Steadies Oregon Law with ADA

From Oregon Disability Rights, May 16 2009

If you support disability rights, please take a moment to email members of the House Judiciary Committee and say that you support Senate Bill 874.

Senate Bill 874 will make Oregon law consistent with recent changes to the federal ADA Amendments Act.

Some members of the legislature are on record as saying they do not like the ADA and think that it hurts small business. They may try to defeat or weaken the bill.

The Committee will conduct a public hearing on SB 874 on Tuesday, May 19 at 1:00 pm in Room 357 at the Capitol Committee members need to hear from people with disabilities, their families and their advocates. WE MUST NOT BE SILENT!


Jeff Barker, Chair: rep.jeffbarker@state.or.us
Judy Stiegler, Vice-Chair: rep.judystiegler@state.or.us
Gene Whisnant, Vice-Chair: rep.genewhisnant@state.or.us
Brent Barton: rep.brentbarton@state.or.us
Kevin Cameron: rep.kevincameron@state.or.us
Chris Garrett: rep.chrisgarrett@state.or.us
Wayne Krieger: rep.waynekrieger@state.or.us
Andy Olson: rep.andyolson@state.or.us
Chip Shields: rep.chipshields@state.or.us
Jefferson Smith: rep.jeffersonsmith@state.or.us


Senate Bill 874–A keeps Oregon law in line with federal law to protect people with disabilities;
Senate Bill 874–A keeps Oregon’s protection of employees of small businesses.

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990, Oregon had its own disability discrimination laws. Oregon changed its laws during the 1990s to be as consistent as possible with the ADA with one exception: Oregon continued to protect employees of small businesses. The ADA only covers businesses with 15 or more employees. Oregon covers businesses with 6 or more employees.

In 2008, the U.S. Congress passed and President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA). It took effect on January 1, 2009.

SB 874 will align state law with the ADAAA so that the laws that Oregonians need to follow will be as consistent as possible.

The key changes in the ADAAA that are tracked in SB 874 are:

* Present law prohibits discrimination against those “regarded as” disabled. The statutes clarify that such discrimination is prohibited whether or not the person’s impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.
* The statutes direct that the determination of whether an individual has a disability is to be construed in favor of broad coverage.
* An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability.
* An impairment that is episodic or in remission shall now be considered a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
* The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity is to be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures excepting ordinary eyeglasses.

Many states such as California and Washington have greater protection against disability discrimination than Oregon or the ADAAA. Oregon should, at least, maintain its tradition of tracking federal law while continuing to cover small businesses.