Newsletter: March 20, 2019

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: March 20, 2019

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Free Webinar-Service Animal Scenarios

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019 1:00 PM EST - 2:30 PM EST
Presenter: Chris Sweet, Northeast ADA Technical Assistance and Outreach Specialist

Service animals have begun emerging in popular media as a topic of contention as airlines, business's, and other places of public accommodation struggle with understanding what service animals are. In this webinar, we will explore scenarios relating to rights and responsibilities of both service animal users as well as those of places of public accommodation.

To register go to: http://register.yangtaninstitute.org/register/index.cfm?event=7008

What's New in Our Region:

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Must Add Elevators When Renovating Stations, Rules Federal Judge

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos issued the mandate Wednesday following his decision that the MTA violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to install an elevator during a 2014 renovation of the Middletown Road station in the Bronx. The ruling is poised to have a profound impact on how the cash-strapped transit agency overhauls subway stations when only a quarter of the system's 472 stops are outfitted with lifts. "Individuals with disabilities have the same rights to use the New York City subway system as every other person," Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. "The Court's decision marks the end of the MTA treating people with disabilities as second-class citizens." Disability Rights Advocates sued the MTA in 2016, charging that the authority neglected to install an elevator during the more than $27 million renovation of the elevated Middletown Road station on the 6 line. To read more about this go to: https://ny.curbed.com/2019/3/7/18254932/nyc-subway-mta-must-add-elevators-federal-judge-rules

The Bureau of Labor Claims Strong Job Gains for the Disability Community

A Western New York labor force specialist said that the increase in the national employment-population ratio for persons with disabilities is the case of a rising economic tide lifting all boats. In 2018, the employment-population ratio - the proportion of a given population that is employed - was 19.1 percent among those with a disability, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday. That same employment-population ratio for people with disabilities was 18.7 percent in 2017, according to the federal agency, which released a report entitled "Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics - 2018". The 2018 unemployment rate for persons with a disability was 8 percent, a decline from the previous year's 9.2 percent jobless rate for people with disabilities, but still more than twice as high as unemployment in the non-disabled population. The data on persons with a disability are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the United States. According to Timothy Glass, an analyst with the state Department of Labor covering Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties, approximately 3,100 New York state households were questioned as part of the survey. To read more about this go to: https://www.eveningtribune.com/news/20190228/disabled-make-job-gains-in-strong-economy

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION: USA Parking Services to Pay $150,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

USA Parking Services, Inc., a hospitality industry-focused valet and parking company, will pay $150,000 to settle the disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, USA Parking Services, Inc. violated the law by refusing to hire a deaf applicant for a valet attendant position based on the assumption that a deaf person could not perform the essential functions of the job rather than conduct an individualized assessment of his abilities. Failure to hire on the basis of stereotypes and assumptions about a disability and the failure to conduct an individualized assessment as to whether a particular disabled applicant can perform the job violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended. "The EEOC will continue to fight for deaf job applicants' rights under the ADA to be provided an interpreter when they are interviewed for employment. Deaf individuals too often face discrimination at the interview stage which denies them even the opportunity to be considered for employment," said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC Miami District Office. To read more about this go to: https://flarecord.com/stories/512048092-equal-employment-opportunity-commission-usa-parking-services-to-pay-150-000-to-settle-eeoc-disability-discrimination-lawsuit

Walmart Pharmacist with Palsy Wins $744K In ADA Trial

A federal jury has ruled that retail giant Walmart Inc. wrongly fired a Washington State pharmacist whose medical conditions kept her from giving injections.

The Olympian newspaper reports the Tacoma jury decided Wednesday that the company should pay 63-year-old Lori Jacobs about $1 million for its violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Walmart issued a statement, saying the company respects Jacobs, and had tried but not been able to reasonably accommodate her. Jacobs' lawsuit says she worked at Walmart's Port Angeles and Sequim stores from 2007 until 2017, when she was let go. The company told pharmacists in 2016 they would all need to give injections, which Jacobs' medical conditions prevented. While jurors found Walmart had violated the ADA, they decided the company had not violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination. To see the original article go to: https://q13fox.com/2019/03/07/jury-rules-walmart-wrongly-fired-washington-pharmacist/

Consumer Complaint Leads to Major Accessibility Improvement Plan at Winery

A woman with a disability faced several "physical barriers" when attending a concert at a winery in Washington, and after a settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the venue has agreed to make changes to its tasting room and amphitheater. U.S. Attorney Brian Moran explained the details of the settlement in a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for Western Washington. The woman, Char Blankenship, had reached out to him after her experience at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville. Blankenship uses a wheelchair and encountered several barriers to accessibility, including issues with accessible parking, and a lack of accessible routes throughout the facility.To read more about this go to: https://www.ticketnews.com/2019/03/woman-faces-struggle-wheelchair-accessibility/

Opportunities for You!

U.S. Access Board Free Webinar: Differences Between the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards

April 4th 2019, from 2:30pm EST to 4:00pm EST

This webinar will review differences between accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and those of the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), which apply to federally funded facilities. Passed by Congress in 1968, the ABA is the first federal law to address access to the built environment. It greatly informed the ADA's requirements for access to facilities in the private and state and local government sectors. This session will compare the ABA and ADA and review differences between the accessibility standards issued under these laws. It will highlight how the ABA and ADA Accessibility Standards differ in application, scope, specific provisions, and enforcement. The relationship of these laws to other federal mandates that address facility access, such as the Rehabilitation Act and the Fair Housing Act, will also be covered.

For more information or to register, visit www.accessibilityonline.org. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the webinar. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits. The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site.

Free Webinar-Accessible Content Shared Through Social Media

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019 1:00 PM EDT - 2:30 PM EDT

The use of social media by federal agencies has become widespread across the federal government. Agencies use social media to promote their mission and to engage members of the public. This webinar will cover how federal agencies can implement social media in an accessible manner. Representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will share their experiences in ensuring access to various social media sites and platforms. NIH maintains over 60 Facebook pages, 40 YouTube channels, 13 Flickr pages, and numerous Twitter accounts.

The presenters will provide an overview of social media techniques, address common questions, review access issues and solutions, and offer best practices and techniques for making content accessible on various social media platforms, including Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube. They will also cover internal guidance that NIH has developed and other resources on the subject that are available. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the live webinar. This session is intended for those involved in generating social media content for government agencies as well as other entities. To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/cioc-508/session/?id=110710

Free Audio Conference Series- Ask the EEOC: Open Question and Answer

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019 2:00 PM EDT - 3:30 PM EDT

Do you have questions regarding the employment provisions of the ADA? Is there an accommodation issue that you are confused about? Do you have questions about what constitutes a disability under the ADA? Are you clear about what constitutes "leave" as an accommodation under the ADA? What are the guidelines regarding the presence of companion animals and service animals in the workplace? Join us for this session where you will have an opportunity to ask your question. We will be accepting questions in advance of the session. The first 25 questions submitted will be given priority and then we will take questions "live" during the session as well. To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/ADA-Audio/session/?id=110704

Special Spotlight:

CRST to Pay $47,500 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit Over Service Animal Refusal

In the lawsuit, the EEOC charged that CRST violated federal law when it failed to accommodate, refused to hire and then retaliated against a truck driver applicant, a Navy veteran, because he used a service dog to assist with his disabilities. During the CRST application process, the veteran disclosed his disabilities and use of a service dog to help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The applicant successfully completed the required commercial drivers' licensing course with CRST's partner training company yet was denied hire due to CRST's "no pet" policy. Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accom¬modations to employees' disabilities so long as this does not pose an undue hardship.

The settlement negotiated between the EEOC and CRST requires the company to provide the applicant with back pay and compensatory damages totaling $47,500. The settlement also includes a consent decree which enjoins CRST from refusing to hire or provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities in the future, and from retaliating against any applicant or employee for seeking a reasonable accommodation. The decree also requires CRST Expedited, Inc. and CRST International, Inc. to provide anti-discrimination training to their employees. To read more about this go to: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/3-6-19.cfm