Newsletter: November 15, 2017

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: November 15th, 2017

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

New Jersey Foundation for Aging Features Northeast ADA Center Staff on Television Program regarding the ADA and Older AdultsThe newest episode of Aging Insights, is titled Know Your Rights. On this program the New Jersey Foundation for Aging's (NJFA) Deputy Director, Melissa Chalker speaks with guests Joseph Zesski and Jennifer Perry of the Northeast ADA Center and they discuss the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA). The guests explain the history of the law and what rights individuals are entitled to because of it. To see the video of this program, you can visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2aYBEXsFQ8&feature=youtu.be

Northeast ADA Center Closed November 23rd and 24th
The Northeast ADA Center and technical assistance services will be closed between 4:30 PM on Wednesday, November 22nd and 8:30 AM on Monday, November 27th for the Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you in advance for your understanding and we hope you have a good holiday!


What's New in Our Region:

College Websites Must Accommodate Students with Disabilities, Lawsuits Say
Since January 2015, at least 751 lawsuits have been filed over the issue of inaccessible websites. The lawsuits filed against universities have come one after the other, against Fordham University, Manhattan College, Long Island University and other area colleges and universities. In all, eight suits have been filed in federal court in Manhattan; most recently against Hofstra University on Long Island on Oct. 4, 2017. The filings are part of a growing number of actions involving accessibility and the internet. The ADA requires that public accommodations be accessible to those with disabilities, and legal battles have long revolved around physical spaces and therefore physical solutions, such as elevators or wheelchair ramps. Now, advocates and lawyers argue, websites are also public spaces and need to be accessible, with things like captions or audio descriptions. To read the full article go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/nyregion/college-websites-disabled.html?emc=eta1&_r=1

New York's Highest Court Rules That Perceived Alcoholics Are Not Protected under New York City Human Rights Law
The New York Court of Appeals ruled that the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL") does not permit a claim of disability discrimination based solely on a perception of untreated alcoholism. To sustain a claim, an individual must actually be a recovered (or recovering) alcoholic and no longer abusing alcohol. The case stems from two former New York City police officers who were falsely accused of being alcoholics during child custody disputes. The officers underwent treatment so as to not face disciplinary action, but in subsequent litigation were found not to be alcoholics. The New York Court of Appeals was asked to determine as to whether the NYCHRL precludes a plaintiff from asserting a disability discrimination claim based solely on a perception of untreated alcoholism. The New York Court of Appeals answered the question in the negative, holding that the "plain language" of the law limits protections only to those employees who (1) are recovering or have recovered from alcoholism, and, (2) are "currently free of such abuse." The meaning of this plain language is that the NYCHRL "does not regulate employer actions motivated by concern with respect to the abuse of alcohol."

To read more about this go to: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/new-york-s-highest-court-rules-perceived-alcoholics-are-not-protected-under-new-york


What's New in the Rest of the Country:

EEOC Launches Online Services for Inquiries, Appointments & Discrimination Charges
On November 1, 2017, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) launched an EEOC Public Portal to provide online access to individuals inquiring about discrimination. "This secure online system makes the EEOC and an individual's charge information available wherever and whenever it is most convenient for that individual," said EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. "It's a giant leap forward for the EEOC in providing online services." The EEOC Public Portal allows individuals to submit online initial inquiries and requests for intake interviews with the agency. Initial inquiries and intake interviews are typically the first steps for individuals seeking to file a charge of discrimination with EEOC. In fiscal year 2017, the EEOC responded to over 550,000 calls to the toll-free number and more than 140,600 inquiries in field offices, reflecting the significant public demand for EEOC's services. Handling this volume of contacts through an online system is more efficient for the public and the agency as it reduces the time and expense of paper submissions. To access the public portal, please visit: https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/portal/ShowForm.aspx?templateId=129

2017 Study on the Cost of Workplace Accommodations
The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has released the 2017 update to its annual study of Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact. The research, which has been conducted annually since 2004, found that the majority of workplace accommodations (59%) cost nothing. Those accommodations which do involve cost are typically small expenditures which pay for themselves in reduced insurance and training costs, as well as increased productivity and morale. To read about the study go to: https://askjan.org/media/lowcosthighimpact.html


National Council on Disability Recommends Decoupling Eligibility for Cash and Health Benefits; Amending Small Business Act to Benefit Business Owners with Disabilities
The National Council on Disability (NCD) - a nonpartisan, independent federal agency comprised of presidential and congressional appointees - On October 26, 2017 released an advisory report to Congress and the President on poverty and disability during its, business meeting in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. NCD's report addresses why people with disabilities are often destined to live in poverty and experience high unemployment despite existing federal regulations and public policies that were intended to improve their lives. The report asserts that the basic needs for people with disabilities go beyond what is covered in the official U.S. definition of poverty and that a new definition of poverty could help highlight the financial challenges facing people with disabilities and influence changes in policy.

The NCD report focuses on seven factors that are crucial for enhancing the economic independence of people with disabilities - education, employment, financial assistance and incentives, health care, long-term services and supports, transportation, and housing - and offers recommendations to policymakers in each area. To read more about this go to: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/highlighting-disability--poverty-connection-federal-agency-urges-congress-to-alter-federal-policies-that-disadvantage-people-with-disabilities-300544099.html

Man Rewarded Job at Kaiser Aluminum's Mill and $175,000 in Discrimination Settlement
Under the terms of a settlement in a disability discrimination lawsuit, a Spokane man will receive $175,000 and a new position. After reviewing old medical documentation, Kaiser withdrew its job offer. Over the years, the Trentwood man had recovered from previously documented injuries and had worked a number of jobs in the same industry. The EEOC filed a lawsuit in September 2016 against Kaiser on behalf of McMurray, claiming the company discriminated against him because of a previous disability. To read more about this go to: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/oct/25/man-rewarded-job-at-kaiser-aluminums-mill-and-1750/

Settlement Reached in Federal Lawsuit against New Albany, Indiana
A settlement has been reached in a federal case against the City of New Albany, Indiana for alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act after an officer's personal medical information was disclosed at a public meeting. According to the Department of Justice, the complainant's rights were violated when personal information about his medical history was read during a public meeting as well as given to the media. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act states that employers "must keep medical information confidential when obtained through employment-related medical examinations and inquiries." The city was ordered to pay $100,000 to the complainant and the city must show that it has revised and implemented new policies in line with the ADA. To read more about this go to: http://www.newsandtribune.com/news/settlement-reached-in-federal-lawsuit-against-new-albany/article_a1b3c460-b519-11e7-b2cf-c761773195c0.html


Opportunities for You!

Service Animals and the ADA: Exploring Common Issues and Scenarios-Free Webinar!
Tuesday, November 21st, 2017
2:00 PM EST - 3:30 PM EST

While more than 27 years have passed since the implementation of the ADA, there are areas which continue to raise questions and cause confusion. One of these areas relates to service animals. This session will explore the rules governing service animals in a variety of settings, including but not limited to the workplace; education; healthcare; business, public spaces; hospitality and travel venues and places of recreation. Bring your scenarios to share and discuss with the presenter. Learn what your rights are as a person who uses a service animal and/or as someone who deals with the public and has questions about how your organization should appropriately respond to service animal issues. To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/ADA-Audio/session/?id=110647 


W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Resources-Free Webinar!
Tuesday, November 28th, 2017
1:00 PM EST - 2:30 PM EST

The Revised Section 508 Standards and Section 255 Guidelines incorporate the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Success Criteria Level A and AA and apply them to both web and non-web ICT, including electronic content. This session will review the robust technical assistance supporting the use of the WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria provided by the W3C (World Wide Web) Web Accessibility Initiative at https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php (link is external). This webinar will explore the use of the WCAG 2.0 supporting technical materials, including "How to Meet WCAG 2.0: A customizable quick reference to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 requirements" (Quick Links); "Techniques for WCAG 2.0" (suggested details on how to develop accessible Web content, such as HTML code examples) and "Understanding WCAG 2.0" (additional guidance on learning and implementing WCAG 2.0). This session is helpful for people who want to understand the guidelines and success criteria more thoroughly and will lead to improvements in the creation of accessible content. The presenter in this session will discuss best practices, helpful tips, and will provide real-life examples to ensure that your agency is successfully engaging with all its stakeholders including those with disabilities. To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/cioc-508/session/?id=110616


Special Spotlight:


Navigating the Interactive Process: Best Practices for Complying with the ADA

Four recent lawsuits filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") against health care employers underscore the federal agency's intent to continue to ensure that employers are complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act's ("ADA") mandate to reasonably accommodate workers with disabilities. The lawsuits highlight the need for employers to effectively navigate the interactive process when working on accommodating an employee.

To read more about the lawsuits go to: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/navigating-interactive-process-best-practices-complying-ada

To read about employer responsibilities under the ADA go to: https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/ada17.html

For a guide on reasonable accommodations, go to: http://www.adainfo.org/content/employers-guide-employees

For a guide to the interactive process, go to: https://askjan.org/media/eaps/interactiveprocessEAP.doc