Newsletter: December 18, 2019

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: December 18, 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 Holiday Closing

Season's Greetings from the Northeast ADA Center! Please note that our Cornell offices will be closed from 4:30pm ET Monday December 23, 2019 until 8:30am ET Tuesday, January 2, 2020. The Cornell based Northeast ADA Center staff will be unavailable; however, our Technical Assistance Call Center (1.800.949.4232 for New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands) and our Technical Assistance email (northeastada@cornell.edu) will operate and be staffed on a limited basis during this time. When we are open, we will be happy to return any phone messages or online TA requests you may have submitted during our closing. Thank you in advance for your understanding and patience regarding any potential delays in our response time to technical assistance, training, or materials requests. The Northeast ADA Center wishes all of you a most enjoyable holiday season, and a very happy and healthy New Year!

Free Webinar- The Northeast ADA Year in Review 2019

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm Eastern
Presenters: Joe Zesski, Program Manager
Chris Sweet, Technical Assistant and Outreach Specialist

Join the technical assistance team of the Northeast ADA Center as they review the year 2019. They will share what has been happening at the Northeast ADA, who contacted the center most often during 2019, and what were the most frequently asked about topics. Then, the team will share notable updates related to the ADA in 2019 including enforcement activities of the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, new technical assistance materials from federal agencies, and other items of interest. To register go to: http://register.yangtaninstitute.org/register/index.cfm?event=7529

What's New in Our Region:

Hunters Point Library Violates the ADA, New Federal Lawsuit Claims

A class action lawsuit filed by a nonprofit group in federal court on Tuesday argues that the newly renovated Hunters Point branch of the Queens Public Library violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit against the $41.5 million library was filed by Disability Rights Advocates on behalf of the Center for Independence of the Disabled - New York and Tanya Jackson, a Long Island City resident with a mobility disability who says she has been "discouraged" from accessing all of the library's features. The suit, which names the Queens Borough Public Library, The Board of Trustees of the Queens Borough Public Library, and the City of New York as defendants, specifically alleges that there are at least three levels of the library that are completely inaccessible to people with mobility disabilities. That includes the library's children's section and the upper level of the rooftop terrace, which looks out onto the East River and the Manhattan skyline. To read more about this go to: https://queenseagle.com/all/2019/11/26/hunters-point-library-violates-the-ada-new-federal-lawsuit-claims

Legal Experts Warn Casinos and Guests with Disabilities, About Service Dog Control Following Niagara Falls Incident

Last month, Bella, a three-year-old Pomeranian, accompanied Maryellen Jurczak to the Niagara Falls tribal casino. The woman has an implant and the dog routinely is by her side. On that day, the dog apparently was given a treat while the owner was seated in a casino restaurant. There is a dispute over what happened next. Jurczak claims a security officer told her to leave because the dog was unruly. However, Seneca Gaming Corporation denies she was ordered to depart. Many lawyers who gave recommendations to the casino industry and its patrons noted the incident. To read more about this go to: https://www.casino.org/news/legal-experts-warn-casinos-disabled-guests-about-service-dog-control-following-niagara-falls-incident/

Lawyer Charged with Stealing People's Identities to File Over 300 Fake Disability Lawsuits

Federal prosecutors have charged an attorney with filing over 300 lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act - on behalf of two clients who had no clue he was claiming to represent them. Stuart Finkelstein is facing charges of mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, obstruction of justice, and making false declarations before a court for filing hundreds of lawsuits in the pair's names without their consent, according to a complaint unsealed Tuesday. Prosecutors claim Finkelstein, who collected around $930,000 from the scheme, filed the phony claims in Florida and Manhattan between 2013 and 2016 on behalf of the two unsuspecting people, who are referred to in court papers only as "Victim 1" and "Victim 2." To read more about this go to: https://nypost.com/2019/11/19/lawyer-stole-peoples-identities-to-file-over-300-fake-disability-lawsuits-feds/

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

EEOC Scores $2.7M Disability Bias Deal for Sample Servers

A company that provides retailers with food sample demonstrators agreed to pay nearly $2.7 million to resolve a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit claiming it violated federal anti-discrimination law by forcing servers to stand for most of their shifts. By not allowing workers like Rhonda Whitecotton and Mary Ann Sawant to sit on a stool for more than ten minutes every two hours to deal with their medical restrictions, Crossmark failed to provide them with a reasonable accommodation required under the ADA, the agency said in its 2018 lawsuit. To read more about this go to: https://www.law360.com/employment/articles/1222176/eeoc-scores-2-7m-disability-bias-deal-for-sample-servers

Colorado Excavating to Pay $42,500 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Gollnick Construction, Inc., which does business as Colorado Excavating, will pay $42,500 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The EEOC's suit alleged Colorado Excavating fired office assistant Dora Marquez just four days after she suffered a seizure at work. Before firing Marquez, Colorado Excavating failed to engage in the required interactive process to discuss potential accommodations. The EEOC also charged the com¬pany engaged in recordkeeping and confidentiality violations by not keeping medical information in separate medical files and by shredding employment applications. To read more about this go to: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-26-19.cfm

Walmart Changes Its Reassignment Policy to Settle ADA Suit

Walmart has agreed to change its disability reassignment policy and pay $80,000 to a former worker with a disability to settle claims that it failed to accommodate her by reassigning her to a vacant position at another store, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency said that, after a sales associate at an Augusta, Maine, store became disabled, preventing her from continuing to work as a sales associate, Walmart determined that the only positions that could accommodate her disability were fitting room associate and "people greeter." Those positions were not available at the store where she worked but there were three fitting room associate positions in nearby stores. Because of Walmart's policy requiring it to search for open positions only in the store where an employee worked, the woman was not transferred to any of the positions. To read more about this go to: https://www.hrdive.com/news/walmart-changes-its-reassignment-policy-to-settle-ada-suit/567607/

Opportunities for You!

Free Audio Session-Employment First and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020
2:00 PM EST - 3:30 PM EST

Employment First is a value that every person with a disability has a FIRST employment option in an integrated workplace earning competitive wages. Employment First is a mindset, an outcome, and a commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities are working in real jobs for real pay. Join us as our speakers discuss Employment First and answer your questions. Learn about Employment First and how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) work together for people with disabilities in the workforce. To register go to: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/ADA-Audio/session/?id=110755

U.S. Access Board Webinar: Using the ADA and ABA Standards: Chapter 1

Starting in the new year, the U.S. Access Board will devote its monthly webinar series to a chapter-by-chapter review of the ADA Standards. These standards govern the construction and alteration of a wide range of facilities covered by the ADA. The sessions will also cover similar standards that apply under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) to facilities that are federally funded. Presenters will focus on common sources of confusion in the ADA and ABA Standards and frequently asked questions. The first session in this year-long program will take place January 9, 2020 from 2:30 - 4:00 (ET) and will cover application of the standards (Chapter 1). Presenters will explain how the ADA and ABA Standards apply in new construction, alterations, and additions, dimensions for adults and children, equivalent facilitation and modifications or waivers, construction tolerances and other conventions, referenced standards, and definitions. Visit http://www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register for this session. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the live webinar.

Special Spotlight:

December is Universal Human Rights Month

Universal Human Rights Month is an annual designation observed in December. This month and every month to follow, people all across the globe are encouraged to come together and stand up for equality, justice, and the dignity of all humans. December is a time to honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an international document stating the basic rights and fundamental freedoms to which all human beings are entitled. These rights include freedom from discrimination, the right to equality, and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. To read more on how to observe this month go to: https://nationaldaycalendar.com/universal-human-rights-month-december/