Trainings & Events
- What laws (in the U.S.) require digital accessibility and how are they being Implemented
- What does the U.S. Department of Justice have to say about digital accessibility
- Does the law protect the privacy of financial and health information for people with disabilities.
- Screen readers like JAWS for Windows and VoiceOver for Apple devices
- Text-to-Speech and magnification software like ZoomText and MAGic
- Built-in reading tools on the iPad and iPhone like Speak Selection and Speak Screen
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software like the KNFB Reader and ABBYY FineReader
- Highlight and read tools like NaturalReader and Snap&Read and more
News from the Federal Agencies
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Liberty Chrysler Dealership Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination
Nevada-based dealership Liberty Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge LLC violated federal law when it fired an employee diagnosed with multiple sclerosis instead of accommodating her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit the agency filed. According to the EEOC, about three months after Shara Rynearson was hired as a commissioned salesperson, she notified her supervisor of symptoms that caused her to go to the emergency room in October 2010: a sudden change in vision, numbness in half of her face, and loss of balance. Later Rynearson showed her employer her hospital discharge documents, which stated she should not return to work until a follow up examination and included a diagnosis predicting multiple sclerosis. She later brought in a doctor's note excusing her absence from work and reiterating her explanation. The EEOC found that instead of allowing Rynearson to take medical leave for the diagnosis and treatment of her disability, the company fired her on Nov. 5, 2010.
Helmerich & Payne to Pay $59,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit
Helmerich & Payne, Inc. (H&P), a Tulsa-based drilling contractor, will pay a former employee $59,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the oil contractor forced a derrick hand at H&P's Alice, Texas location off the job because he was taking prescribed medications to treat chronic pain associated with a degenerative disk condition. The company ultimately fired the derrick hand, even though he had been deemed fit to return to work by his doctor.
EEOC Sues McLane Foodservice for Disability Discrimination
McLane Foodservice, Inc., which supplies foodservice deliveries to fast-food chain restaurants, violated federal law by discriminating against an employee it believed to be disabled, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit. According to the EEOC lawsuit, McLane refused to hire an applicant because it regarded him as disabled and because the applicant had a record of a disability.
Howard University Will Pay $35,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit
Howard University, a historically black university in the District of Columbia, will pay $35,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC charged that Clarence Muse, who has diabetes that resulted in kidney failure, applied for and was interviewed for a protective services officer and protective services supervisor position with Howard University Hospital, a division of the university. According to the lawsuit, Howard University hired more than 40 security officers and supervisors but refused to hire Muse, despite his excellent qualifications, because of his disability.
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Signs New Project Civic Access Settlement Agreements
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached new settlement agreements under its Project Civic Access initiative with Chaves County, NM and Madison County, NY. Project Civic Access works with counties, cities, towns, and villages to remove barriers that will foster compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). By eliminating physical and communication barriers Project Civic Access allows persons with disabilities to participate in the activities and services offered by their respective communities. The DOJ has conducted reviews in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia and posted the agreements on the Project Civic Access website. Read the Settlement Agreement with Chaves County
Department of Justice Posts Settlement Agreement with the Village of Ruidoso
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement agreement with the Village of Ruidoso, NM resolving an investigation under title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). During its investigation the DOJ determined that the Village was asking job applicants disability related questions prior to a conditional job offer had been made. As part of the settlement the Village agrees that it will not conduct any medical examination or make any disability-related inquiry of a job applicant before an offer of employment has been made to the job applicant.
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
2015 Theme Announced for October's National Disability Employment Awareness Month
'My Disability Is One Part of Who I Am' Planning for National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2015 is underway, and the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy announced the official theme for the October observance: "My Disability Is One Part of Who I Am."
"This year's theme encapsulates the important message that people with disabilities are just that - people," said Jennifer Sheehy, acting assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. "And like all people, we are the sum of many parts, including our work experiences. Disability is an important perspective we bring to the table, but, of course, it's not the only one."
National Disability Employment Awareness Month, known as NDEAM is a nationwide campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the contributions of America's workers with disabilities, past and present. Each spring, the year's theme is announced to help workplaces, individuals and communities begin planning activities.
NDEAM dates back to 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." The word "physically" was deleted in 1962 to acknowledge individuals with all types of disabilities. The week was expanded to a month by Congress in 1988 and its name was also changed to NDEAM. When ODEP was created in 2001, it was given responsibility for NDEAM, including selection of its annual theme.
Great Lakes In Focus
Celebrate 25 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act
The 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is rapidly approaching. The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990. Throughout the year the Great Lakes Center will participate in celebrating this landmark event as a way of bringing attention to the important work that has been done to promote equal opportunity for people with disabilities and to highlight the work that is yet to be done.
The Great Lakes ADA Center, along with its ADA Affiliate Network has accomplished significant results toward voluntary compliance with the ADA. The ADA Anniversary Information and Resources has been designed to capture our collective achievements and highlight useful ADA information and materials that can be used to enhance your ADA anniversary events. We encourage duplication of these materials for print and distribution purposes.
The information and resources include the following materials:
- Press Release: The Great Lakes ADA Celebrates 25 Years of Facilitating Voluntary Compliance of the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Disability-Related Statistics from the Great Lakes Region You Can Use: Disability and ADA-related statistics from a variety of sources.
- ADA Celebration Events: Many organizations in the region are holding celebrations - check to see if any are near you.
- Case Law Developments in the Great Lakes Region (IL,IN,MI,MN,OH,WI): Most recent circuit court decisions in the Great Lakes Region
- Major Cases Impacting the ADA in the Great Lakes Region Over the Past 25 Years-Significant cases over the past 25 years from the Great Lakes region (IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, & WI)
- The ADA Legacy Project The ADA Legacy Project celebrates our present by partnering with those who work to honor the milestones and accomplishmet
Appeals Court Rules Girl Scouts is Covered by Federal Disability Discrimination Law
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday, May 8, 2015, that the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is subject to federal disability discrimination law under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The federal lawsuit was filed on August 2, 2012, by Megan Runnion, who is deaf and was 12 years old at the time. Megan was seeking to secure an American Sign Language interpreter for meetings of her Girl Scout troop.
For the six years that Megan was involved with her Girl Scout troop, the Girl Scouts provided a sign language interpreter for troop meetings and outings. Megan's mother renewed the request for the interpreter in 2011, but the Girl Scouts denied her request. Rather than providing the requested interpreter services, Megan's troop was disbanded.
The lawsuit was dismissed on October 26, 2012, when the Girl Scouts argued that the organization was not covered under the Rehabilitation Act. But on Friday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Northern District of Illinois' decision and found that private membership organizations that receive federal funds, such as the Girl Scouts, are covered by federal disability discrimination law.
According to Steven P. Blonder, lead counsel in the case and a principal at Chicago-based law firm Much Shelist (which is handling the case on a pro bono basis) the decision confirms that private membership organizations, such as the Girl Scouts, are included in the anti-discrimination provisions of the Rehabilitation Act, regardless of whether professionals or volunteers are playing key roles. It also defines what it means to be principally engaged in social service or educational programs.
"The opinion confirms that private organizations that receive federal funding are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities," said Blonder. "We are pleased that the Seventh Circuit has confirmed this important principle and we can now focus on the underlying discrimination that our client experienced."
"Megan was heartbroken that she could no longer participate in Girl Scouts," said Edie Runnion, Megan's mother. "We are thrilled that Megan's case can finally go forward and set a precedent for other children who have disabilities and want to stay active in scouting and other similar organizations."
"We filed this case nearly three years ago and it is gratifying that we now have a definitive decision that the Girl Scouts cannot discriminate against its members with disabilities," said Barry Taylor, Vice President of Civil Rights and Systemic Advocacy at Equip for Equality and co-counsel for Megan. "The Girl Scouts' policy is discriminatory on its face, and we look forward to rectifying the injustice this policy caused our client." Equip for Equality attorneys Laura Miller, Amanda Antholt and Rachel Arfa are also representing Megan.
"The Girl Scouts' refusal to provide interpreter services not only violates federal law, but also is contrary to the founding principles of the Girl Scouts," said Howard A. Rosenblum, an attorney and the Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of the Deaf, which is serving as co-counsel. "Ironically, Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts, herself became deaf later in life and she welcomed girls of all abilities at a time when they were excluded from many other activities." Marc Charmatz and Debra Patkin are the attorneys at NAD representing Megan.
The United States Department of Justice, which interprets and enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, filed a brief with the Seventh Circuit supporting Megan's argument that the Girl Scouts is covered by federal disability anti-discrimination law.
For more information visit the Equip for Equality Website at:http://www.equipforequality.org/news-item/appeals-court-rules-girl-scouts-is-covered-by-federal-disability-discrimination-law/
From the ADA Expert
Question: What is the association provision of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with regards to employment and to whom does it provide protection?Answer:
The ADA covers private employers with 15 or more full or part-time employees and also state and local government employers. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all employment practices of covered employers. A covered employer may hire, fire or promote the most qualified individual he or she chooses but that employer is prohibited from using disability in that decision making process.
The purpose of the association provision is to prohibit employers from taking adverse actions based on unfounded stereotypes and assumptions about individuals who associate with people who have disabilities. The ADA makes actions such as refusing to hire an individual who has a child with a disability based on an assumption that the applicant will be away from work excessively or be otherwise unreliable, firing an employee who works with people who are HIV-positive or have AIDS based on the assumption that the employee will contract the disease, or denying an employee health care coverage available to others because of the disability of an employee's dependent unlawful.
The association provision of the ADA prohibits employment discrimination against a person, whether or not he or she has a disability, because of his or Her known relationship or association with a person with a known disability. This means that an employer is prohibited from making adverse employment Decisions based on unfounded concerns about the known disability of a family member or anyone else with which the applicant or employee has a relationship or association.
The ADA does not require a family relationship for an individual to be protected by the association provision. The important factor is whether the employer is motivated by the individual's relationship or association with a person who has a disability.
Employers don't have to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who associate with individuals with disabilities. Only qualified applicants and employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodation.
For example, the ADA would not require an employer to modify its leave policy for an employee who needs time off to care for a child with a disability. However, an employer must avoid treating an employee differently than other employees because of his or her association with a person with a disability.
For additional information please contact the Great Lakes ADA Center at (800) 949-4232 (V/TTY) or by completing the online form: http://adagreatlakes.com/WebForms/ContactUs/>