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HUD CHARGES NEW JERSEY CONDO ASSOCIATION WITH DISCRIMINATING AGAINST RESIDENT WITH DISABILITIES (Oct. 2018)

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

Dear Colleague,

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today charged Hudson Harbour Condominium Association, Inc., in Newark, NJ, with discriminating against a resident with disabilities.

Specifically, HUD’s charge alleges that the condo association only allowed the resident, who is sight and hearing impaired, to use the service door instead of the main entrance to the development or the common areas when accompanied by her assistance animal. HUD’s charge further alleges that the condominium association charged the resident’s daughter a fee because she walked her mother’s assistance animal in the development’s common areas. Read the charge.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices.

“Subjecting someone to different residency requirements because they use an assistance animal prevents that person from fully enjoying their home and is against the law,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Condo associations have an obligation to comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act when it comes to reasonable accommodations and HUD is committed to ensuring that they meet that obligation.”

The case came to HUD’s attention when the daughter of a condominium resident who uses an assistance animal filed a complaint alleging that the condominium association refused to waive its requirement that residents transport pets in carriers when in common areas, and was fined $100 for walking the animal in the development’s common areas. Because of the resident’s mobility impairments, her daughter was primarily responsible for walking the dog. Additionally, when the resident was with her assistance animal, she was required to use the service door to enter and exit the building.

“Rules that limit access to condominium common areas for persons with disabilities who need an assistance animal violate the Fair Housing Act,” said J. Paul Compton Jr., HUD’s General Counsel. “This charge represents HUD’s commitment to ensuring that persons with disabilities are allowed to fully use and enjoy their homes.”

The charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he or she may award damages to the individual complainant for his or her loss as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order other injunctive or equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties to vindicate the public interest.

Last April, HUD marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, joining local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country in a coordinated campaign to enhance awareness of fair housing rights.

Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).

New! Updates to FTA’s Environmental Review Regulations and Section 4(f) Regulations Published (Oct. 2018)

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

FTA, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration, announces publication of its latest rulemaking effort: an update to environmental regulations and Section 4(f) regulations to reflect MAP-21 and FAST Act changes. The rule was published today in the Federal Register and will go into effect on November 28, 2018.

Major changes include:

Cross-Agency Categorical Exclusion (CE). FTA may now apply an FHWA or FRA CE to an FTA project or action should FHWA or FRA have a CE that better matches the project activity (see 23 CFR 771.118(e)).
Operational Right-of-Way (ROW) CE. The “existing operational ROW” definition at 23 CFR 771.188(c)(12) has been broadened in this revision to the rule.
Combined Final Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision section (see 23 CFR 771.124).
Coordination Plan and Schedule requirement. FTA and the project sponsor must establish the coordination plan, including schedule, within 90 days of publishing the notice of intent (see 23 CFR 771.123(b)(2)).
Three new Section 4(f) Exemptions (see 23 CFR 774.13(a)).

Please share this important update to these two regulations with colleagues and customers who are involved in the environmental review process.

Links:
Federal Register: Environmental Impacts and Related Procedures: A Rule by FHWA, FRA and FTA FTA’s Environmental Programs

DENTON COUNTY TO PAY $115,000 AFTER JUDGMENT IN EEOC EQUAL PAY LAWSUIT

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

Denton County Paid Female Doctor Less Than a Male Doctor in Health Department

DALLAS – Denton County will pay $115,000 to a female former county doctor after a federal court entered judgment in favor of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a pay discrimination lawsuit (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the lawsuit, Dr. Martha C. Storrie worked as Primary Care Clinician in the Denton County Public Health Department beginning in October 2008. The job duties of her position were primarily to provide medical treatment for Denton County residents in clinics operated by the County. In August 2015, Denton County hired a male physician to perform the same duties as her. However, when the newly hired clinician was brought onboard, the county set his starting annual salary at more than $34,000 higher than hers. The Denton County director of public health then failed to take remedial measures in response to Storrie’s complaint about the unequal pay.

Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which both prohibit unequal pay disparities which are based on gender as opposed to other factors such as qualifications and job duties. The Equal Pay Act makes it unlawful for employers to pay women less than men for a job requiring the same skill, effort and responsibility, performed under similar working conditions.

The EEOC filed suit in August 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division (EEOC v. Denton County, Civil Action No. 4:17-CV-614) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

“Dr. Storrie was a very well qualified and competent physician for Denton County,” said EEOC Dallas District Office Supervisory Trial Attorney Suzanne M. Anderson. “Dr. Storrie was board certified in adult and pediatric urology, hospice and palliative medicine and a certified correctional healthcare professional. She received cards and letters from many of her patients, thanking her for her competent and caring treatment, so she expressed surprise when she learned the county paid her less than the new hire.”

The final judgment and order issued by Federal District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III on Oct. 24, 2018 awards Dr. Storrie $115,000 in damages. It also requires Denton County to implement a new written policy regarding the compensation policy for all new physicians in the public health department in Denton County. Denton County is also to provide training on equal pay for women and the posting of a notice at Denton County facilities.

“The EEOC is pleased with the county’s commitment in the final judgment which requires the implementation of a new compensation policy for the public health department,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Canino. “The EEOC is hopeful the County’s renewed efforts may also lead to other departments or areas within the County’s workforce being reviewed and considered periodically to determine equal opportunities are given to both men and women.”

Equal Pay discrimination is one of six national enforcement priorities highlighted in the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan, accessible at https://www.eeoc.gov/plan/sep-2017-cfm.

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.

EEOC HOLDS PUBLIC MEETING ON OCTOBER 31, 2018: STEPS TO TRANSFORM WORKPLACE CULTURE TO PREVENT HARASSMENT

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, October 31, from 9:30 a.m. to noon ET at agency headquarters, 131 M Street, N.E. Washington, D.C. The meeting, entitled “Revamping Workplace Culture to Prevent Harassment,” will be open to public observation.

Earlier this month, the EEOC released preliminary fiscal year 2018 data reporting increases in harassment charges and litigation. Hits on the EEOC’s harassment webpage doubled since the start of the #MeToo movement one year ago.

In the Co-Chairs’ 2016 Report of the Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, EEOC issued recommendations to employers on the key components (leadership, accountability, policies, procedures, and training) for changing an organization’s culture and preventing harassment. During this meeting, witnesses will discuss these components and how they can be used to foster civil, respectful, and harassment-free workplaces. The Commission will hear from the following panelists during the meeting:

• David G. Bowman, Partner, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
• Rob Buelow, Vice-President, EVERFI
• Mary C. Gentile, PhD, Giving Voice to Values/ University of Virginia, Darden School of Business
• Veronica Giron, Ya Basta Campaign
• Christine Porath, Associate Professor, Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business
• Alejandra Valles, Secretary-Treasurer, SEIU United Service Workers West (USWW)
• Anne Wallestad, President and CEO, BoardSource

Seating is limited. Visitors are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes before the meeting to be processed through security and escorted to the meeting room. Visitors should bring a government-issued photo identification card to facilitate entry into the building.

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

MESSAGE BY EEOC ACTING CHAIR VICTORIA LIPNIC NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH (Oct. 2018)

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

“America’s Workforce: Empowering All” is the official theme for this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

If that strikes a resonant vibration in our hearts here at the EEOC, it’s because that could be our slogan for everything we do. We’ve always believed in empowering all Americans to build and improve their lives.

This commemoration had its origin in 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was dropped to acknowledge individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to NDEAM. Later the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) assumed responsibility for NDEAM.

Nomenclature and sensibilities have changed over the years, but not the core mission and motivation behind this commendable observance.

The EEOC has backed that mission for years, namely through enforcement of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In fiscal year 2017 alone, we handled almost 27,000 disability charges in the private sector under the ADA, amounting to 31.9% of total charges – that number has been trending upward for 20 years.

And we’ve put our muscle where our heart is. The agency’s ADA suit filings have risen from 36% of our litigation in FY 2014 to 42% in FY 2018, and for several years our ADA litigation has ranked second among statutes we enforce, behind only Title VII.

We know our work is making a difference, but we also know there’s more to do. In terms of overall employment, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2009, the first year for which it recorded annual statistics for disability employment, only 19.9 percent of non-institutionalized people with disabilities were employed. Since then that number has fluctuated between 17 and 19 percent, and for 2017 it was 18.7. That’s compared to an employment rate of 65.7 percent for people without a disability in 2017. On the other side of the ledger, BLS reports that the unemployment rate for people with a disability is currently 7.3 percent, more than twice that of those without a disability (3.4 percent). People with severe, “targeted” disabilities, of course, face even greater employ­ment challenges.

What all this tells us is that we have to work harder, with steely determination to ensure employment opportunity for these Americans. And, it all comes back to a core principle that we can never stop reminding people of: When you overlook, underestimate, and, yes, harm people with disabilities, you’re disrespecting and harming America and its values.

So, this National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I urge each of you to celebrate the contributions of employees with disabilities, and to draw upon this year’s NDEAM theme, “America’s Workforce: Empowering All,” for inspiration in the important work that you do.

FAIR HOUSING NEWS (Oct. 2018)

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Dear Colleague,

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today charged Heathermoor II, LLC, and Valhalla Management & Real Estate, LLC, both of Westerville, Ohio, with discrimination for refusing the request of a resident with disabilities to have a designated parking space. Read HUD’s Charge.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from denying or limiting housing to persons with disabilities or from refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices.

“For many individuals with disabilities, certain accommodations are necessary in order for them to fully enjoy their home,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to take action to ensure that housing providers recognize and meet their obligation to comply with the nation’s fair housing laws.”

HUD’s charge alleges that the owners of Heathermoor II Apartments in Weirton, West Virginia, refused to grant a designated parking space to a resident with disabilities, despite the woman providing medical documentation attesting to her need for the accommodation. As a result, the woman and her children had to move to a different complex.

“When a resident needs a designated parking space as an accommodation for her disability and providing one will not be an undue burden or fundamental alteration, a housing provider must do so,” said Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel. “We want housing providers to know what their legal responsibilities are and to follow them. If they don’t, we will bring charges like this one.”

HUD’s charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If the judge finds that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainant for harm caused by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.

Last April, HUD marked the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, joining local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country in a coordinated campaign to enhance awareness of fair housing rights. Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Read more.

DOJ Reaches Agreement with The South Dakota Department of Corrections to Ensure Equal Access for Inmates with Disabilities (Oct. 2018)

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the South Dakota Department of Corrections (SDDC) to resolve a comprehensive investigation under Title II of the ADA following receipt of complaints from inmates with disabilities who alleged that SDDC did not provide facilities accessible to inmates with mobility disabilities, program access and access to sign language interpreters and other auxiliary aids and services.

The settlement agreement requires SDDC to make significant architectural modifications to the South Dakota State Penitentiary and the Mike Durfee State Prison to make those facilities accessible to inmates with mobility disabilities, to relocate inmates with mobility disabilities to accessible housing; to provide equal access to its services, programs and activities; and to provide inmates with hearing and visual disabilities auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication.

People interested in finding out more about the ADA or this agreement may access the ADA website at https://www.ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD).

U.S. Department of Justice: Eliminating Discrimination Against College Students with Mental Health Disabilities (Oct. 2018)

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Today the Justice Department announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Northern Michigan University (NMU). The settlement agreement resolves complaints under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that NMU discriminated against students with mental health disabilities. Specifically, the Department investigated allegations that NMU took adverse action against certain students with mental health disabilities, including allegations that the University required certain students to sign contracts that barred them from talking, even with their friends at NMU, about self-destructive thoughts or face discipline, including involuntary withdrawal from the University. Under the agreement, NMU agreed to pay a total of $173,500 in compensatory damages to four (4) aggrieved individuals identified by the United States in its investigation. NMU will also adopt and implement policies and conduct training.

For more information about the ADA and the agreement please access the ADA Web page at https://www.ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383.

EEOC CONVENES PUBLIC MEETING ON STEPS TO TRANSFORM WORKPLACE CULTURE TO PREVENT HARASSMENT

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, October 31, from 9:30 a.m. to noon ET at agency headquarters, 131 M Street, N.E. Washington, D.C. The meeting, entitled “Revamping Workplace Culture to Prevent Harassment,” will be open to public observation.

Earlier this month, the EEOC released preliminary fiscal year 2018 data reporting increases in harassment charges and litigation. Hits on the EEOC’s harassment webpage doubled since the start of the #MeToo movement one year ago.

In the Co-Chairs’ 2016 Report of the Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, EEOC issued recommendations to employers on the key components (leadership, accountability, policies, procedures, and training) for changing an organization’s culture and preventing harassment. During this meeting, witnesses will discuss these components and how they can be used to foster civil, respectful, and harassment-free workplaces. The Commission will hear from the following panelists during the meeting:

• David Bowman, Morgan Lewis
• Rob Buelow, EVERFI
• Mary Gentile, Giving Voice to Values/ University of Virginia, Darden School of Business
• Christine Porath, Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business
• Alejandra Valles & Veronica Giron, Service Employees International Union West and Ya Basta Campaign
• Anne Walestad, Boardsource

Seating is limited. Visitors are encouraged to arrive at least 30 minutes before the meeting to be processed through security and escorted to the meeting room. Visitors should bring a government-issued photo identification card to facilitate entry into the building.

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.

Labor Department’s OFCCP and Women’s Bureau: The Leadership in Equal Access and Diversity Award Proposal is Open for Public Comment (Oct. 2018)

Friday, October 19th, 2018

OFCCP and the Women’s Bureau are joining efforts to recognize contractor best practices in comprehensive equal employment opportunity and nondiscrimination programs. The proposed Leadership in Equal Access and Diversity Award (LEAD) will recognize supply and service contractors that go above and beyond in creating and implementing programs of inclusion and fair treatment in the workplace, regardless of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran, and recognize the importance of fairness in compensation practices and pay transparency.

OFCCP hears you. This proposed award reflects OFCCP’s consideration of the feedback offered by contractors and other stakeholders during various meetings and listening sessions. During many of these sessions, stakeholders expressed an interest in the agency finding ways to identify and publicly recognize contractor best practices for providing equal employment opportunity and supporting nondiscrimination in employment practices.

Where can you learn more about the award? The proposed structure and details of the recognition program are published in today’s Federal Register. You can read the formal notice, supporting statement, and see a draft of the award nomination form and instructions here.

Tell us what you think. You can provide any comments or suggestions you have for the new program via www.regulations.gov. The last day to submit comments on this proposal is December 18, 2018.