Newsletter: November 20, 2019

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: November 20, 2019

Some readers may have issues with the accompanying links below. The Northeast ADA is working to resolve this issue. All links have been verified. If you need assistance, please call our technical assistance line, 1.800.949.4232, or email northeastada@cornell.edu
Thank you.

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Northeast ADA Center Closed November 28th and 29th

The Northeast ADA Center and technical assistance services will be closed between 4:30 PM on Wednesday, November 27th and 8:30 AM on Monday, December 2nd 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:

Football Player Sues the New York Jets for ADA Violation

The Jets' strong safety, Rontez Miles, filed a lawsuit in New Jersey state court against the NFL alleging that his rights under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJ LAD) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were violated when he was forced to remove a tinted helmet visor. In his suit, Miles alleged that he suffers from "alopecia areata," which is an autoimmune skin disorder that causes photosensitivity and photophobia in the eyes. The tinted helmet visor that Miles has worn throughout his football career is said to reduce the effects of ocular photosensitivity. To read more about this go to: https://www.law.com/litigationdaily/2019/10/24/nfl-player-sues-the-new-york-jets-for-ada-violation-407-10183/?slreturn=20191011104056

Settlement Agreement Between the United States of America and the City of Hudson NY

Based on a complaint from three individuals, alleging, among other things, that the City of Hudson's sidewalks are inaccessible, and, that there is no accessible entrance to City Hall, Promenade Hill (Hudson Waterfront) Park, and other locations where the City provides programs, services and activities, the United States initiated this investigation and compliance review of the City of Hudson, New York (Hudson), under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
The City agreed to take various steps including, the appointment of an ADA Coordinator who will undergo training on the requirements of the ADA, implementation of a grievance procedure and other measures to make programs and buildings more accessible. To read the full agreement go to: https://www.ada.gov/city_hudson_ny_sa.html

In Emergencies, Few NJ Schools Ready to Protect Children with Disabilities, Report Says

The needs of students with disabilities are an afterthought during emergencies in most New Jersey schools, and much more must be done to ensure that schools' crisis and evacuation plans are truly designed to keep everyone safe, not just those who have developed typically mentally and physically, according to a new report. State guidance on school safety addresses 91 specific elements of planning, according to the report. Just one touches on the needs of students with disabilities, requiring schools simply "to accommodate students with disabilities," the report said. However, accommodating these students demands an approach that is far from one-size-fits-all. Mercedes Witowsky, the NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities Executive Director, said an individual's limits and needs could vary greatly based on their personal disability and its severity. To read more about this go to: https://nj1015.com/in-emergencies-few-nj-schools-ready-to-protect-kids-with-disabilities-safe-report-says/

DiNapoli Report: People with Disabilities Have Higher Unemployment Rates and Lower Incomes

People with disabilities in New York City face the same challenges as those elsewhere in the nation, including obstacles to employment, higher rates of poverty and lower earnings than those without disabilities, according to a report by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. "There is a stark disparity in employment rates and wages for people with disabilities," said DiNapoli. "A recent study shows that when businesses embrace disability inclusion, it benefits the corporation and its shareholders. There are some positive signs that companies are opening up jobs to people with disabilities, but more needs to be done to get employers to recognize that inclusion is a smart business decision." To read more about this go to: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/oct19/101019.htm

As the Holidays Approach, the Latest Wave of ADA Cases Challenge the Absence of Braille Gift Cards (National Law Review)

On Thursday, October 24, we learned that a new wave of lawsuits began to flood the dockets of the New York federal courts. These lawsuits are styled as putative class actions on behalf of individuals who are blind or have low vision, and allege that the defendant companies (spanning industries including retail and hospitality) violate the ADA, the New York State Human Rights Law, the New York City Human Rights Law and the New York State Civil Rights Law by failing to provide braille gift cards for purchase. In the complaints, the plaintiffs uniformly allege that they are blind, that they contacted the defendant company to inquire as to whether they provide gift cards in braille, and when the companies responded that they did not offer such a product, they commenced the lawsuit. To read more about this go to: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/holidays-approach-latest-wave-ada-cases-challenge-absence-braille-gift-cards

Spanish Version of DDS Brochures Available in NJ

In addition to an English and audio version, New Jersey Resources 2019-2020 is now available in Spanish! The Spanish version is available both electronically and in print.

View it electronically here: https://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dds/documents/RD/2019/DHS_NJ_Resource_Guide_Spanish_WebOptimized.pdf

To view other DDS publications, visit the publications tab on our website at: https://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dds/news/pubs/

Should you wish to request a hard copy of any of NJDDS publications, please contact us at 1-888-285-3036

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Job Descriptions Must Accurately Reflect True Job Duties

A recent case from a federal court highlights the importance of accurate job descriptions. In Wiggins v. City of Montgomery, Plaintiff applied for a promotion to the position of Revenue Examiner on three occasions over an eight-year period, most recently in 2015, and was denied each time. At issue was the job description's requirement of walking over rough terrain, which Plaintiff could not do because she uses a walker and cannot walk in rough terrain.
Plaintiff filed suit asserting, among other things, disability discrimination for failure to accommodate. In response, the employer explained that Plaintiff was not a "qualified" individual under the Americans with Disabilities Act because she could not perform the essential functions of the position with a reasonable accommodation. The Court, however, found the evidence suggested otherwise. The Court determined that "actually conducting site visits as a Revenue Examiner is not as ‘essential' as Defendant's job posting and job description seem to suggest." To read more about this go to: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/job-descriptions-must-accurately-reflect-true-job-duties

EEOC Helps Veterans Understand Their Employment Rights Under ADA

Veterans Day - a federal holiday observed annually on November 11 to honor the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces - is an appropriate time for veterans who have returned to the civilian workforce to understand their employment rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To help do this, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) - an agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination - offers a publication entitled "Understanding Your Employment Rights Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A Guide for Veterans" on the EEOC website. The guide is intended to answer questions that injured veterans may have about their rights after they have left the service and returned to a civilian job or seeking a new job. It also explains the kinds of adjustments - called reasonable accommodations - that may help them be successful in the workplace. To read more about this go to: http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2019/11/11/eeoc-helps-veterans-understand-rights-under-ada/

Opportunities for You!

Free Webinar-Accessible Restaurants and Bars

Thursday, December 5th, 2019
2:30 PM EST - 4:00 PM EST

New trends in the design of restaurants and bars pose challenging questions on the best way to achieve access so that they are inclusive of everyone. This session will review requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards for restaurants, cafeterias, and bars and address common sources of confusion. Presenters will cover accessible seating at tables, counters, and bars, dispersion, raised and sunken dining areas, mezzanines, food service lines, and other requirements at different types of dining and drinking establishments. To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/ao/session/?id=110758

Special Spotlight:

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month

Epilepsy Awareness Month in November brings attention to a condition affecting more than 1 million in the United States. This life-long condition has no cure, and continued research is needed. That's why Epilepsy Awareness Month continues to make a difference in November and all year long. Since epilepsy is the 4th most common neurological disease, it impacts everyone. The condition does not discriminate. While anyone of any age and any population develop epilepsy, it is more common in children and the elderly. To read more about this go to: https://www.epilepsy.com/make-difference/public-awareness/national-epilepsy-awareness-month