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Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS)

Explanation of "Regarded As"

Reference Number: MTAS-1054
Reviewed Date: 10/21/2022

An “individual with a disability” is an individual who:

  • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a “major life activity,” or;
  • has a record of such an impairment, or;
  • is regarded as having such impairment


The “regarded as” prong of ADA was meant to keep employers from making employment-based decisions based on myths, fears, and stereotypes. In 2008, ADAAA made changes to this third part of the definition of disability. An individual no longer must show that the employer believed the impairment substantially limited ability to perform a major life activity. Individuals are covered under this provision when an employer takes action prohibited by ADA such as making an adverse employment decision based on an actual or perceived impairment (i.e., not hiring someone due to a history of a brain tumor). This means an individual could take legal action against an employer who made an adverse employment decision as a result of erroneous information.