Newsletter: May 15, 2019

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: May 15, 2019

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Free Webinar-Small Employers and the ADA: Challenges and Solutions

May 29, 2019
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
Presenter: Joe Zesski, Program Manager Northeast ADA

The Northeast ADA Center conducted a study of small organizations with 500 or fewer employees in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The purpose was to learn more about small organization experiences and needs related to employing individuals with disabilities and to identify the best ways to share information with these small employers. This webinar will preview the findings of this soon to be issued report and share the insights learned by the Northeast ADA Center through this research. To register go to: http://register.yangtaninstitute.org/register/index.cfm?event=7141

Free Webinar-What do we know? Employer Engagement Lessons from the Diversity Partners Project

May 21, 2019
2:00 PM-3:00 PM

The Diversity Partners Project engaged in a two-year effort to uncover effective employer engagement practices for employment service professionals and organizations. This session shares information gathered by the Diversity Partners team that became the basis for web-based Frontline and Leadership Toolboxes. Individuals participating in the webinar will learn: What the literature tells us about effective employer engagement, and where evidence may be lacking. The results of more than 30 interviews about employer relationships, from professionals in community-based disability agencies, vocational rehabilitation, and workforce development in four states. Employer perspectives on effective employer engagement; gleaned from in-person convening, surveys, and employers who served in an ongoing advisory capacity to the project. To register go to: http://register.yangtaninstitute.org/register/index.cfm?event=7050

What's New in Our Region:

Remedy Intelligent Staffing and Lornamead to Pay $50,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Remedy Intelligent Staffing, LLC, a California-based staffing firm, and Lornamead, Inc., a manufacturer headquartered in New York City, will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced. The EEOC charged that Remedy and Lornamead violated federal law when they refused to provide a reasonable accommodation to a long-term temporary employee that would have enabled him to continue to work after his kidney condition worsened, and instead ended his employment.
According to the EEOC's suit, David Gaiser II was hired by Remedy and assigned to work as a general laborer at Lornamead's Tonawanda, N.Y., facility in June 2013. During his employment, Gaiser was diagnosed with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, a chronic condition characterized by the growth of multiple cysts in the kidneys. In June 2016, Gaiser was assigned to run a machine that re¬quired continual bending and twisting, which aggravated his kidney condition and caused him severe pain. Gaiser suggested several accommodations that could enable him to perform his job duties. Instead, Lornamead directed Remedy to end Gaiser's three-year assignment at Lornamead. Remedy failed to place Gaiser at another job with a different client. "As joint employers, Remedy and Lornamead share a legal duty to provide reasonable accom¬modations to people with disabilities," said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC's New York District Office. "We appreciate both employers' willingness to resolve this case without protracted litigation." To read more about this go to: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/4-29-19.cfm

Saving the Teeth of Patients With Special Needs: A New Dental Center is Built to Welcome Patients with Disabilities, Who Often Run Into Obstacles Elsewhere

Cheryl Closs, a mother of four from West Islip, N.Y., wanted to save her daughter Bella's two front teeth. They were badly decayed, and one dentist wanted to just pull them out. But Ms. Closs was having none of it. Bella, who is 15 and in 8th grade, has special needs and uses a wheelchair. "They are quick to pull a child's teeth that is special needs," Ms. Closs said. So she began a search for a root-canal specialist. She would take Bella out of school for the day and her husband would drive them to whichever borough for a dental appointment. However, they took Bella to at least eight dentists and root-canal specialists, all of whom declined to treat her. Some "didn't even look at her teeth," Ms. Closs said. "This has happened so many times." Access remains a formidable problem for patients with special needs. But the N.Y.U. College of Dentistry's Oral Health Center for People With Disabilities offers a new option for patients like Bella. It is the rare facility that treats adult and pediatric patients across the spectrum of disabilities, those with developmental delays like autism, intellectual disabilities, or diseases like cerebral palsy and dementia. It has two operating rooms where patients who cannot sit still can be sedated. Besides expanding access for patients, N.Y.U.'s center aims to send all of its graduates into the world with the skills and confidence to care for special-needs patients. To read more about this go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/02/well/live/special-needs-dentist-nyu.html

William Paterson University first to offer disabilities studies degree in NJ

In response to growing demand, William Paterson University is offering the state's first-ever bachelor's degree in disabilities studies. "There was a call for a major. It was sort of a groundswell of interest from people from so many disciplines," said Amy Ginsberg, the dean of William Paterson University College of Education. It's the first of its kind in New Jersey and among the first 20 undergraduate degree programs like it in the country. The program builds on the university's disabilities studies minor that launched in 2017. According to the CDC, one out of every five adults in the U.S. has a disability, with the rate rising due to increased chronic conditions and an aging population. To earn the degree, Brillante says it'll require courses like anthropology, public health, psychology, and kinesiology and study topics like the philosophy of justice and life span development. "We designed this program intentionally to be interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, and we're looking at individuals with disabilities through a mental health lens, through a physical health lens, through a community lens," Brillante said. To read more about this go to: https://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/william-paterson-university-first-to-offer-disabilities-studies-degree-in-nj/

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Party City to Pay $155,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

The EEOC's lawsuit, filed in September 2018, charged that Party City violated federal law by failing to hire a qualified employee with a disability at its Nashua, N.H., location after it became aware that she required a job coach as a reasonable accommodation for her disability. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the applicant, who was on the autism spectrum and suffered from severe anxiety, had been receiving services from Easter Seals of New Hampshire to build up her self-confidence, including around working and applying for a job. One of these Easter Seals emp¬loyees went with her in October 2017 to apply for a sales associate job with Party City. The applicant received a job interview, but when the hiring manager discovered that the woman accompanying her was a job coach, the hiring manager's attitude changed dramatically. The hiring manager told the job coach that Party City had hired people with disabilities with job coaches in the past and that it had not gone well, and made disparaging comments about those emp¬loyees. The Manager ultimately did not hire the applicant based on her disability.

The EEOC filed its suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire in Concord, N.H. (Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00838-PB), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In addition to the monetary relief, the three-year consent decree settling the suit enjoins Party City from discriminating against qualified applicants with job coaches in the future. To read more about this go to: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/4-22-19c.cfm

East Haddam CT Grocery Store to Allow Service Animals Under ADA Settlement

The U.S. Attorney's office announced Monday it has reached an agreement with Grist Mill Market to resolve allegations that the store was not operating in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, according to a release. The settlement agreement resolves an ADA complaint filed by a person with disabilities alleging that the store required her to remove her service animal from the store as a condition of service, according to the release. The store will also implement a "Service Animal Policy," which includes the types of legally permissible inquiries store employees may make of a customer who enters the store with a service animal, and training for employees regarding the policy, the U.S. Attorney's office said. Under federal law, private entities that own or operate places of "public accommodation," including grocery stores, are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of disability, the release said. To read more about this go to: https://www.middletownpress.com/news/article/East-Haddam-grocery-store-to-allow-service-13769072.php

Harris County TX, DOJ Reach Settlement Over Poll Access

The U.S. Department of Justice will monitor Harris County elections, at county expense, for up to four years under the settlement of a federal lawsuit over inadequate access to polling places for voters with disabilities. Commissioners Court approved the 15-page settlement during its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday. The item originally was designated for a closed-door executive session, but court members simply agreed to First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard's recommendation they sign off on the deal. Under the agreement, Harris County will have to make minor accessibility improvements to as many as 300 of its 750 regular voting sites, hire two outside election experts to supervise balloting and designate an in-house Americans with Disabilities Act compliance officer. The county does not have to concede it has violated the ADA in past elections. Toby Cole, a quadriplegic attorney who almost exclusively represents wheelchair users, said the settlement and extended federal supervision are essential because disabled voters often are reluctant to complain about problems they encounter. "They don't want to make a huge fuss," Cole said. "So, you don't vote the first time, then the second time. We cut things out of our lives already, and voting is one more thing to say is too difficult." County Judge Lina Hidalgo said after the meeting she is confident the county will be able to show the federal government much sooner than four years it is capable of running an election in which each polling place meets ADA guidelines. To read more about this go to: https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Harris-County-DOJ-near-settlement-over-poll-13680506.php

Opportunities for You!

Free Audio Session-Question and Answer Session: Accommodating Students with Disabilities Enrolled in Medical and Health Science Programs

May 21, 2019
2:00 PM EDT - 3:30 PM EDT

This is a follow-up to the January 15th, 2019 session titled "Accommodating Students with Disabilities Enrolled in Medical and Health Science Programs". There was great interest in the session and a large number of questions were received during and following the Audio Conference. In response, our presenter, Lisa Meeks, will address questions from the January Audio Conference and will respond to questions submitted in advance of this session. To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/ADA-Audio/session/?id=110708

Free Webinar-Promoting Independence and Access through Responsible Design Part 3: Curbside Access

May 28, 2019
2:00 PM EDT - 3:30 PM EDT

Join us for our 4 part series, Promoting Independence and Access through Responsible Design. Melissa Anderson, PE, formerly a Transportation Engineer for the U.S. Access Board, will present a four-part webinar series designed to improve the understanding of why and how to provide accessible pedestrian facilities in the public right of way. The series will begin with a discussion of legal obligations, how the Standards and guidelines apply and then move through the components of pedestrian access and how to actually achieve access. Part 3: Curbside Access: Beyond the sidewalks and curb ramps, people need access to other transportation modes, such as transit, passenger vehicles and even shared bike systems. This webinar will provide information on designing these connections. It will cover the design of transit stops, on-street parking and passenger loading zones and even some best practices on shared bike systems. To register go to: https://adata.org/event/promoting-independence-and-access-through-responsible-design-part-3-curbside-access

Special Spotlight:

May is Mental Health Awareness Month: What Can Employers Do to Break the Stigma of Mental Health in the Workplace?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month! With approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiencing mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is imperative that today's employers focus on breaking the stigma around mental health in the workplace. Address this taboo topic so employees can educate themselves and seek appropriate resources to remain productive and happy in both their personal and professional lives. A study done in October 2018 by workplace consultant Peldon Rose shows that 72% of employees want to work for employers that champion mental health and wellbeing. It makes sense. However, with mental illness covering a wide range of conditions like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors to name a few, what can employers do to support employees struggling with these issues? Are there steps they can proactively take to help employees manage certain mental illnesses or conditions? To read about tips that will help employers create an environment that fosters positive mental health go to: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/may-mental-health-awareness-month-130000083.html

Additional resources re: the observation of Mental Health Awareness Month can be found on Mental Health America's website here: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may