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LINCOLN CEMETERY SUED BY EEOC FOR RETALIATION

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Company Terminated a 31-Year Veteran Employee After She Participated in a Discrimination Investigation, Federal Agency Charges

ATLANTA – Lincoln Cemetery, Inc., an Atlanta corporation specializing in interment arrangements, violated federal law when it fired an employee because she participated in an EEOC investigation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it recently filed.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Peggy Knox had worked for Lincoln Cemetery as an adminis-trative assistant since October 1983. In July 2015, Knox was interviewed by the EEOC during its investi-gation into an EEOC charge filed against Lincoln Cemetery by another employee. On Sept. 17, 2015, Lincoln Cemetery’s owner and president attended a conference at the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office related to the same EEOC investigation. Within hours of attending the conference, Knox was fired be-cause of her cooperation with the EEOC.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division (Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-3165-ELR-AJB) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensa¬tory damages and punitive damages for Knox, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“This suit sends a message that employees should never be punished for speaking to government officials when they investigate discrimination claims,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director of the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.

Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, added, “Trying to take revenge against emp¬loyees for speaking to government investigators and engaging in protected activity is a clear violation of the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII and hinders an employee’s ability to work in a discrimination-free environment as well as the government’s ability to do its job.”

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

EEOC SUES SILVERADO FOR PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Residential Care Provider Refused to Keep Pregnant Worker on the Job Working Light Duty and Instead Fired Her, Federal Agency Charges

MILWAUKEE – Residential care provider Silverado violated federal law when it fired an employee rather than accommodate her pregnancy-related medical restrictions, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The lawsuit was filed against Silverado Menomonee Falls, LLC, dba Silverado Oak Village, where Shaquena Burton worked, as well as Silverado’s home office, called Silverado Senior Living, Inc.

“What our investigation indicated,” said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s district director in Chicago who managed the federal agency’s pre-suit administrative investigation, “is that Silverado fired its employee, Shaquena Burton, once it learned of her pregnancy and her need to perform light-duty work, rather than give her the light duty tasks it made available to its employees injured on the job.”

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which prohibits pregnancy discrimination in employment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Silverado Menomonee Falls, LLC d/b/a Silverado Oak Village and Silverado Senior Living, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-1147 ) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on Aug. 22 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Magistrate Judge William E. Duffin. The EEOC is seeking full relief, including reinstatement, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct Silverado’s practices going forward.

Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said, “The Supreme Court made clear in Young v. UPS that if an employer provides light duty or other accommodations to a large proportion of non-pregnant workers while denying those opportunities to a large percentage of pregnant workers, the employer may be violating our nation’s civil rights law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination. In this case, Silverado deprived Ms. Burton of an accommodation that it consistently offered to its non-pregnant workers.”

Jean Kamp, associate regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, added, “Shaquena Burton was willing and able to perform light-duty work. Instead, Silverado fired her, depriving her of an income at a time when she was growing her family and wanted to work. In terminating Ms. Burton, Silverado lost a talented worker committed to caring for Silverado’s residents, and also violated the law.”

According to company information, Silverado is a network of memory care, at-home and hospice care centers. The network, based in Irvine, Calif., has facilities in eight states across the country. Silverado operates two centers in Wisconsin, where Shaquena Burton worked.

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

EEOC SUES TARR AND ZENITH FOR PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Company Fired Female Employee After Learning She Was Pregnant, Federal Agency Charges

SAN DIEGO — Tarr, Inc. and Zenith, LLC, a San Diego-based company that sells dietary supplements, violated federal law when it fired an employee within days of learning of her pregnancy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed today.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, an employee who worked at Tarr, Inc. in San Diego informed the company of her pregnancy and was terminated ten days later. The EEOC also contends that the com­pany discharged other pregnant employees or refused their requests to return to work after taking maternity leave. Tarr, Inc. merged with Zenith, LLC in 2016.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Tarr, Inc., and Zenith, LLC, Case No. 3:17-cv-01660-W-WVG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay, compensa­tory and punitive damages for the female employee and a class of similarly affected employees, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further discrimination at the business.

“Pregnancy discrimination continues to be a persistent problem,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes San Diego County. “Employers should be cognizant of their obligations under federal law to maintain a workplace free of discrim­ination.”

Christopher Green, director of the EEOC’s San Diego local office, added, “Women should not have to choose between their job or having children. Employers need to be aware that the EEOC takes pregnancy discrimination seriously and the agency will continue to protect the rights of pregnant employees.”

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Office of Disability Employment Policy News Brief (Aug. 25, 2017)

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

ABLE Act Online Dialogue Report Now Available
The final summary report for “The ABLE Act: A Tool for Financial Stability and Employment Outcomes Online Dialogue” is now available to read online at ePolicyWorks.org. This virtual crowdsourcing event, hosted by the LEAD Center and ODEP’s ePolicyWorks, explored how youth and adults with disabilities can use ABLE accounts to advance employment and financial self-sufficiency. The online dialogue attracted more than 245 registrants, 100 comments, 218 votes and 28 postings. The feedback and responses of the participants will inform the LEAD Center’s future endeavors and will further provide guidance for the use of ABLE accounts.

“Tuesdays with Liz” Features ODEP Policy Advisor Richard Davis
“Tuesdays with Liz” is a weekly video series highlighting current issues in disability policy. It is hosted by Liz Weintraub, a long-time disability advocate, and produced by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. Recently, Liz sat down with Richard Davis, Policy Advisor at the Office of Disability Employment Policy, to discuss Employment First and Customized Employment for people with disabilities.

PEAT Releases August eNews
The Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology released the August edition of its eNews. This issue features the publication of PEAT’s enhanced resources on WIOA Guidance for American Job Centers, the updated draft of WCAG 2.1 from W3C, blogs on accessible technology issues from experts in the field, and more.

New ODEP Policies in Practice Profile — Erin Thompson
Erin Thompson is an Administrative Assistant at Rosetta Stone. Erin, who has Down syndrome, handles a variety of tasks in the office, such as data entry, processing expense reports, filing, delivering mail, and keeping the cooler and coffee station stocked. Her detail-oriented approach makes her a valuable member of the Rosetta Stone team. Outside of work, Erin is a community volunteer, and serves on the Self-Advocate Advisory Board of the National Down Syndrome Society.

EARN Publishes New Workforce Recruitment Program Success Stories
The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion recently published two new profiles of Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) participants on its Success Stories webpage. The WRP is a free service managed by ODEP and the U.S. Department of Defense that connects employers with highly qualified postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities. The profiles highlight how CVS Health and Northrop Grumman Corporation were able to meet their talent needs through two outstanding WRP participants: Afomeya Mekonnen and LeAndre Yarrell, respectively.

Latest EARN Newsletter Now Available
The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion has published its August 10 newsletter. This issue highlights the National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme, a blog about the ADA anniversary from Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, EARN’s participation in the recent conference of the National Industry Liaison Group, upcoming web events, and more.

For more information, go to www.dol.gov/odep.

EEOC Sues Macy’s For Disability Discrimination (Aug. 2017)

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Retailer Refused to Excuse Asthmatic Employee’s One-Day Absence and Fired Her, Federal Agency Charges

CHICAGO – Macy’s, Inc., violated the federal disability discrimination law when it fired an employee rather than excuse a one-day absence the employee needed to address serious complications arising from her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

“What our investigation indicated,” said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC district director in Chicago who managed the federal agency’s pre-suit administrative investigation, “is that Macy’s fired its long-term emp­loyee, Letishia Moore, rather than excuse a single day’s absence she needed to address complications related to her asthma, which required emergency care. Ms. Moore had been employed by Macy’s at its State Street store for close to eight years when Macy’s fired her.”

The EEOC brought the suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination in employment, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case (EEOC v. Macy’s Inc./Macy’s Retail Holdings, Inc., Civil Action No. 17-cv-5959) was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division on August 16, 2017. It has been assigned to U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp, Jr. The EEOC is seeking full relief, including back pay, reinstatement, compensa­tory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct Macy’s practices going forward.

Greg Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said, “Employers have a legal duty to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities that enable them to perform the essential functions of their job. Reasonable accommodations can include time off. Here, Macy’s acted unreasonably – and unlawfully – when it denied Ms. Moore a single day’s absence to address her disability-related health complications. Macy’s refusal to allow Moore’s absence prevented her from continuing to do the job she had done well for many years.”

According to company information, Macy’s, Inc. is one of the nation’s premier retailers. With fiscal 2016 sales of $25.778 billion and approximately 140,000 employees, the company operates more than 700 department stores under the nameplates Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, and about 150 specialty stores that include Bloomingdale’s The Outlet, Bluemercury and Macy’s Backstage. Macy’s, Inc. operates stores in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, as well as macys.com, bloomingdales.com and bluemercury.com. Bloomingdale’s stores in Dubai and Kuwait are operated by Al Tayer Group LLC under license agreements. Macy’s, Inc. has corporate offices in Cincinnati and New York City.

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

FORD MOTOR COMPANY TO PAY UP TO $10.125 MILLION TO SETTLE EEOC HARASSMENT INVESTIGATION (Aug. 2017)

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Blacks and Women Subjected to Harassment at Two Chicago Facilities, Federal Agency Found

CHICAGO – Ford Motor Company has agreed to pay up to $10.125 million to settle sex and race harassment for a group of individuals which was investigated by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commis­sion (EEOC) at two Ford plants, the federal agency announced today.

In its investigation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that personnel at two Ford facilities in the Chicago area, the Chicago Assembly Plant and the Chicago Stamping Plant, had subjected female and African-American employees to sexual and racial harassment. The EEOC also found that the company retaliated against employees who complained about the harassment or discrimination.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ford chose to voluntarily resolve this issue with the EEOC, without admission of liability, to avoid an extended dispute.

The conciliation agreement provides monetary relief of up to $10.125 million to those who are found eligible through a claims process established by the agreement. The agreement also ensures that during the next five years, Ford will conduct regular training at two of its Chicago-area facilities; continue to disseminate its anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and procedures to emp­loyees and new hires; report to EEOC regarding complaints of harassment and/or related discrimination; and monitor its workforce regarding issues of alleged sexual or racial harassment and related discrim­ination.

“Ford Motor Company has worked with the EEOC to address complaints of harassment and discrim­ination at these two facilities and to implement policies and procedures that will effectively prevent future harassment or provide prompt action when harassment complaints arise. Ford has taken its responsibilities seriously and is committed to providing its employees with a work environment free of discrimination and harassment,” said the EEOC’s Chicago District Director, Julianne Bowman.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

EEOC SUES DEPENDABLE HEALTH SERVICES FOR DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION (Aug. 2017)

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Health Care Staffing Agency Fired Phlebotomist With Sickle-Cell Anemia, Federal Agency Charges

BALTIMORE – Dependable Health Services, Inc., a health care staffing agency, violated federal law when it fired an employee with sickle-cell anemia instead of reinstating her or reassigning her to a position in another department where she had previously worked, the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

According to the suit, Sheena Berry started working at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., as a phlebotomist in March 2016. In September 2016, when Dependable Health Services took over a medical services contract at Walter Reed, Berry was pregnant and experienced complications related to the sickle-cell anemia, including restrictions on her ability to lift and bend. Berry told Dependable Health Services about her pregnancy and disability and requested a reasonable accommodation of no longer working mobile blood drives. Dependable Health Services initially refused to accommodate Berry, the EEOC said.

Shortly thereafter, Berry had premature contractions while working on a mobile blood drive, and was hospitalized. Only then did Dependable Health Services accommodate her by placing her in the Out-Patient Phlebotomy Department, which did not require mobile blood drives, according to the suit. Berry remained working in that department until she gave birth in early November 2016. While on maternity leave, Berry contacted Dependable Health Services on several occasions to update them on her status and hospitals stays.

On Feb. 24, 2017, Berry informed Dependable Health Services that she would return to work on Feb. 28. However, on Feb. 27, Dependable Health Services abruptly terminated Berry, stating it “decided to have [Berry’s] position backfilled effective immediately. Please see the attached notice of your employment termination effective today, 02/27/2017.”

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADA also requires an employer to provide reasonable accom­modations unless the employer can prove it would be an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Dependable Health Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 8:17-cv-02316) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Greenbelt Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. As part of the suit, the EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief prohibiting the company from engaging in any employment practices that dis­criminate based on disability in the future.

“The law is clear — an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with a disability,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. “Instead of reinstating Ms. Berry, or respond­ing to her request to be reassigned to work in the outpatient department, Dependable Health Services abruptly fired her the day before she was set to return to work — and that’s why we filed this suit.”

Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, added, “Everyone loses when an employer rushes to terminate an employee instead of exploring potential reasonable accommodations, including transfer to a vacant position, that would enable a good worker to remain employed.”

The EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

UPS TO PAY $2M TO RESOLVE NATIONWIDE EEOC DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS (Aug. 2017)

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Shipping Giant’s Rigid Leave Policies Forced Out Employees Who Needed Accommodations, Federal Agency Charged

CHICAGO – International shipping giant United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) has agreed to pay $2 million to nearly 90 current and former UPS employees to resolve a nationwide disability discrimination lawsuit filed in 2009 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as well as to conciliate related administrative charges, the agency announced today.

The EEOC charged that UPS violated federal law failing to provide UPS employees with disabilities reasonable accommodations that would enable them to perform their job duties. The EEOC further alleged that UPS maintained an inflexible leave policy, whereby the company fired disabled employees automatically when they reached 12 months of leave, without engaging in the interactive process required by law.

Such alleged conduct violates Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Case No. 09-cv-5291) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing $2 million in monetary relief, UPS has also agreed to update its policies on reasonable accommodation, improve its implementation of those policies, and conduct training for those who administer the company’s disability accommodation processes. Furthermore, the company has agreed to provide the EEOC periodic reports on the status of every accommodation request for the next three years to ensure the efficacy of its procedures.

“The ADA requires companies to make a real effort to work individually with their employees with disabilities to provide them with the necessary and reasonable accommodations that will allow them to do their jobs,” said Greg Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “As a result of this lawsuit, UPS now has practices in place to better ensure that this happens.”

Julianne Bowman, the EEOC’s Chicago District director, added, “Having a multiple-month leave policy alone does not guarantee compliance with the ADA. Such a policy must also include the flexibility to work with employees with disabilities who may simply require a reason­able accommo­dation to return to work. UPS has now made changes which will allow more people to keep their jobs.”

According to company information, Atlanta-based UPS has over 434,000 employees and had revenues of $61 billion in 2016.

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employ­ment discrimin­ation, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

Northeast ADA Center News (Aug. 2017)

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

The Northeast ADA Center is Updating our Website!The Northeast ADA Center’s website is getting a new look and expanding the ability to easily access resources regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act. To take a look at our Beta site under construction, please visit: http://beta.northeastada.org/

Free Webinar! Overview of the Final Rule for Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment
Thursday, September 28, 20171:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT

This webinar will review the accessibility standards developed by the U.S. Access Board for equipment used in medical settings by health care providers for diagnostic purposes, including: examination tables and chairs, weight scales, mammography equipment, and other imaging equipment. The webinar will also discuss the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ guidance information for health care providers regarding their responsibilities to make their services and facilities accessible to individuals with mobility disabilities under the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. To register, please visit: http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=6401

What’s New in Our Region:

Regional International Sued by EEOC for Firing Employee Who Requested Leave for SurgeryRegional International Corporation, a commercial truck and trailer dealership with locations in Western New York, unlawfully fired an employee after he requested leave for hip replacement surgery. After requesting a short leave to have surgery on a degenerative hip that caused the employee excruciating pain that hindered his walking, climbing of stairs, and sleep, the employee was fired rather than being provided the accommodation to take care of the issue. Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that employers provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities, and prohibits employers from discriminating against them. To read more about the case go to: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/7-27-17.cfm

NY City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Residents, Advocates Urge Cuomo Signature on Bill Allowing Residents with Disabilities to Take More Accessible UnitsThere’s a push to make public housing friendlier to some of its most vulnerable residents. The proposed legislation would allow residents that use wheelchairs to move into accessible apartments when they become available. As residents age or become disabled they may have greater challenges with mobility needs and ideally lower level apartments should be reserved to meet those resident’s needs. To see the article go to: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nycha-residents-urge-cuomo-sign-disability-housing-bill-article-1.3382383

Rev Up NJ Kicks off Disability Voter Registration Week 2017 in TrentonOn July 18th, approximately 50 people gathered at the State House Annex to kick off National Disability Voter Registration Week. The event, hosted by the Alliance Center for Independence (ACI) and REV UP NJ, included speeches by NJ Senate President Stephen M. Sweeny, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, Rutgers Distinguished Professor, Douglas L. Kruse, NJ Council for Developmental Disabilities, Kevin Casey, and a host of advocates and civil rights activists. ACI and REV UP NJ will be holding voter registration and education events during the months leading up to the November 8th Gubernatorial Election. To read more go to: https://www.adacil.org/latest-updates/ndvrw-kickoff-2017?utm_source=July+2017+-+News&utm_campaign=Newsletter&utm_medium=email

What’s New in the Rest of the Country:

President Trump Nominates Iraq Veteran Daniel Gade to EEOC Commissioner Spot President Trump has nominated Daniel M. Gade to the last vacant slot on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Dr. Gade, who has a Master’s and Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Policy, is a veteran of the second Iraq War, and lost his right leg in 2005 after an explosion that occurred while he was carrying out a routine patrol. Based on his writings and some articles about him, Dr. Gade appears to be a strong advocate for self-reliance and getting disabled veterans back to work. How this philosophy will apply to issues that arise under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which the EEOC enforces, is not clear. It could mean that he will strongly advocate reasonable accommodation, which allows individuals with disabilities to be gainfully employed to the fullest extent possible. But he has also spoken out against the military definition of “disability,” contending that it is too broad and encourages veterans to stay out of the work force. To read more about his nomination go to: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=3b3de01d-d198-4bb4-9daa-982717b945f3

UPS to Pay $1.7M to Resolve EEOC’s ‘Maximum Leave’ LawsuitUnited Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) reached a $1.7 million agreement with the EEOC to settle a nationwide lawsuit challenging the delivery company’s policy of discharging workers who can’t return from medical leave after 12 months. The EEOC alleged in its 2009 lawsuit that UPS’s maximum leave policy, in addition to providing a basis for the company to unlawfully fire disabled workers, also acted as an illegal employment qualification standard that screened out or tended to screen out workers with disabilities. To read more about this go to: https://www.bna.com/ups-pay-17m-n73014462571/

New ADA-Accessible Trail Showcases Cedar Breaks SplendorIt’s not often that we see new trails in our national parks, but Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah recently opened the mile-long Sunset Trail. Designed to be ADA-ABA accessible, the Sunset Trail provides exploration opportunities for all people, including young children, seniors and those with physical disabilities, including people who use mobility devices. While there may be a long way to go in providing equal access to all of our national parks, the Sunset Trail is a good example of what is possible. To read more about this go to: http://www.thespectrum.com/story/sports/outdoors/backyard-ramblings/2017/08/03/new-ada-accessible-showcases-cedar-breaks-splendor/536924001/

Opportunities for You!

Open Q & A-Free Webinar
Thursday, September 7th, 20172:30 PM EDT – 4:00 PM EDT

This is a regular session in the Accessibility Online webinar series that provides an opportunity to ask questions on any topic related to the Access Board’s work and activities. Questions are welcome on the Board’s accessibility requirements and rulemaking activities, including the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards, new standards being developed for medical diagnostic equipment, and other topics related to the Board’s work. Accessibility specialists will answer questions submitted in advance during the first half of the session, leaving time in the second half to answer questions in the live session. To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/ao/session/?id=110599

Facebook Friends-Workplace Enemies Free Webinar
Tuesday, September 19th, 20172:00 PM EDT – 3:30 PM EDT

Can I Google applicants or use information posted on Facebook? Within social media and employment law the risk of social media in the employment world is a relatively new fad and form of communication. With the popularity of social sites like Facebook and Linkedin, employers can gain access to all sorts of information that would normally be “off limits” during an interview. Could this be creating a legal problem for employers? Are people with disabilities being “weeded out” by potential employers because of their “electric footprints”? In this lively session EEOC’s Joe Bontke will spell out the risks and offer some remedy for the new risk of social network “investigating” when an applicant has some “google issues” To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/ADA-Audio/session/?id=110627

Special Spotlight: Web Accessibility

The internet is a source of entertainment, news, commerce, education and much more. However, many people with disabilities struggle to access this key resource. Web accessibility ensures that people with disabilities can use the web effectively no matter how they access the site. It asks that web developers consider alternative access methods when building sites, that forms are labeled, that alternative text is used to describe pictures that mean something on the page, and that pages are structured in a way that make sense to someone who can’t see them. Web accessibility has other benefits as well; well-designed pages load more quickly, take less space on your server, and will transport more easily to mobile devices. The Northeast ADA Center offers resources on web accessibility, accessed here: http://www.northeastada.org/pages/accessibility/website-access.cfm

As web access has been a “hot topic” in recent months, below are several articles on this topic that highlight new developments.

DOJ Disables Titles II and III Website Regulations The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has placed its once-planned website accessibility regulations under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on an inactive list, putting to rest speculation about what the Trump administration may do with respect to the long-promised regulations. No one knows for sure what relegation to the inactive list means, as this is the first time that federal agencies have prioritized their rulemaking agendas by dividing proposed regulations into three categories: (1) the regulatory plan, which highlights regulatory priorities for the coming year; (2) long-term actions, which are regulatory actions not expected within 12 months; and (3) the inactive list, which includes regulations that have not been formally withdrawn, yet seem to have no known place in the agency’s planned rulemaking. While the DOJ has placed this on a low priority list there is no assurance that this protects an entity from private lawsuits. To read more about this go to: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=b90be499-a45b-4a92-a0d6-2ac166b60d03

New Ruling Requires Websites to Make ADA AccommodationsIn June, a federal judge in Florida passed down an important Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) website accessibility decision, finding that Winn-Dixie was liable under the ADA because its website was inaccessible. In Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., the plaintiff argued that Winn-Dixie’s website was inaccessible to visually-impaired individuals and thus violated the ADA because features such as the website’s online coupons and pharmacy could not be accessed using a screen reader. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff on all issues and awarded injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees. To read more, go to: https://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/news/2017/08/01/new-ruling-requires-websites-to-make-ada.html

Start Spreading the News – EDNY Denies Motion to Dismiss Website Accessibility ComplaintWhile the ADA finished celebrating its 27th anniversary at the end of July, for plaintiffs looking to bring website accessibility complaints in New York the party is still ongoing. Following on the heels of last month’s decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Five Guys, Judge Jack B. Weinstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, in Andrews vs. Blick Art Materials, LLC, recently denied a motion to dismiss a website accessibility action, holding that Title III of the ADA (“Title III”), the NYS Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law all apply to websites – not only those with a nexus to brick and mortar places of public accommodation but also to cyber-only websites offering goods and services for sale to the public. Read more at: http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=0945b90a-eec8-4a5b-8b48-37c3564ee2f1

Acting U.S. Attorney Settles Civil Rights Suit Against Westchester Property Management Company And Cooperative Building For Discriminating On The Basis Of Disability

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Defendants to Pay $125,000 in Damages and Penalties, Adopt Reasonable Accommodation Policies and Implement Training Programs

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit against Defendants WEST-EX ASSOCIATES, INC. (“West-Ex”), and 505 CENTRAL AVENUE CORP. (“505 Central Ave.”), for discriminating on the basis of disability and refusing to provide reasonable accommodations, as required by the Fair Housing Act.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Every member of our society is entitled to equal access to housing and the independence and dignity that it provides. With this resolution, we again emphasize that condos, cooperatives, landlords, and property managers must provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities.”

The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in the terms and conditions of the sale or rental of, or to otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling based on the prospective buyer or renter’s disability. The law also mandates that reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, and services be provided when necessary to afford equal opportunity to housing to persons with disabilities.

According to the allegations in the Complaint, filed in January 2017, 505 Central Ave. maintains a 155-unit housing cooperative located in White Plains called Thompkins Manor. West-Ex acts as 505 Central Ave.’s property management company, and handles applications for housing at Thompkins Manor. Between August 2013 and July 2014, West-Ex and 505 Central Ave. repeatedly denied the application of a 34-year-old individual (the “Complainant”) to purchase a one-bedroom unit at Thompkins Manor based on his disabilities. The Complainant has suffered numerous heart attacks and lives with congenital heart problems, developmental language disorder, learning disorders, and depression. The Complainant and his family requested that ownership of his unit be placed under a legal trust, which would assist the Complainant in managing the requirements of cooperative housing. West-Ex and 505 Central Ave. unlawfully rejected this reasonable accommodation request on numerous occasions, summarily and without adequate explanation. The Complaint further alleges that West-Ex, which acts as a management company for numerous other properties in Westchester County, engaged in a pattern and practice of discriminatory conduct by maintaining a stated policy of not considering requests for reasonable accommodations by applicants like the Complainant. Following Defendants’ unlawful denial of the Complainant’s application for housing, the Complainant was forced to continue living in a boarding house with abysmal conditions, grew increasingly depressed, and suffered another heart attack.

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Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, filed yesterday with an order resolving the case entered by U.S. District Judge Nelson S. Román, West-Ex and 505 Central Ave. must:

Pay a total of $125,000, including compensatory damages and attorney’s fees to the Complainant and civil penalties to the United States;
Adopt reasonable accommodation policies and application forms approved by the United States, which must be included with all future applications for housing handed out to prospective buyers; and
Provide annual training regarding the Fair Housing Act and reasonable accommodation policies to all current and future employees and agents.

In addition, 505 Central Ave. must only employ property management companies with adequate reasonable accommodation policies in place, and West-Ex may not take any action as property manager for any other property that violates its newly adopted reasonable accommodation policy.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cha-Kim is in charge of the case.

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