Newsletter: January 15, 2020

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: January 15, 2020

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Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

ADA Year in Review Webinar

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM

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 2020 including enforcement activities of the Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, new technical assistance materials from federal agencies, and other items of interest. If you require any reasonable accommodations in order to participate in the event, please notify the Northeast ADA Center 72 hours prior to the event. The Northeast ADA Center will make every reasonable effort to secure an accommodation that will meet your needs. To register go to: http://register.yangtaninstitute.org/register/index.cfm?event=7529

What's New in Our Region:

Goodwill Industries to Pay $65,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey, Inc., which provides job opportunities to people with disabilities, will pay $65,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on November 18th, 2019. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the employee, who worked in a janitorial program that primarily employed individuals with disabilities, encountered problems on the job as a result of his cognitive disability and needed additional training or job coaching to properly understand the rules he was required to follow. Instead, he was given written warnings, which the employee was unable to read or understand, and received no additional training or coaching. As a result, the employee continued to experience the same difficulties and was ultimately fired, the agency charged. To read more about this go to: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/goodwill-industries-to-pay-65000-to-settle-disability-discrimination-lawsuit

Federal Government Reaches Settlement in Lawsuit over Preschool's Expulsion of a Child with a Disability

A nationwide chain of day care centers has agreed to settle federal litigation accusing it of disability discrimination. Spring Education, formerly known as Nobel Learning Communities, agreed to adopt an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant policy concerning children with disabilities that impact their ability to be toilet trained. The settlement comes after the company was sued by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey in 2017 for expelling a 4-year-old girl with Down syndrome because she failed to meet its strict standards for toilet training. The suit alleged the company violated the ADA by discriminating against the child, known as M.M., and her parents after it refused to modify its standard toileting policy and then expelling the child. The school said it did not provide diapering services to children in that age group, even though the girl's parents presented a note from her physician stating she would not become toilet trained until at least age 5 because of her developmental delays. To read more about this go to: https://www.law.com/njlawjournal/2019/11/13/feds-reach-settlement-in-lawsuit-over-preschools-expulsion-of-disabled-child/?slreturn=20200006124058

Access Restored to Popular Boardwalk in New York City under ABA

When Super Storm Sandy hit New York City in 2012, it destroyed most of the iconic Rockaway Boardwalk in Queens. The following year, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation began work to restore the 5½ mile boardwalk using disaster relief assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program. Shortly after the boardwalk reopened in May 2017, a complaint was filed with the Access Board under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) alleging that ramps at two locations along the boardwalk that had been destroyed were replaced with stairs. To read more about this go to: https://www.access-board.gov/news/1979-access-restored-to-popular-boardwalk-in-new-york-city-under-the-aba

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Big Lots Stores to Pay $100,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

The retailer permitted disability harassment at a West Virginia Store, then retaliated against the employee for reporting harassment of a co-worker, the federal agency charged. In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that a retail worker with hearing and speech disabilities was subjected to harassment by her co-workers at Big Lots' Elkins, WV, store. A number of store employees often mocked the worker's hearing disability and manner of speech, frequently using derogatory and highly offensive terms, and Big Lots management officials were aware of the harassment but failed to take appro¬priate action, the EEOC alleged. Additionally, the EEOC charged that Big Lots refused to promote the employee because of her disabilities and in retaliation for reporting the harassment. Further, the EEOC's lawsuit charged that Big Lots subjected a non-disabled department manager to discrimination because of her association with the harassment victim and in retaliation for her efforts to protect her co-worker from harassment. To read more about this go to: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-26-19a.cfm

Massey Services Will Pay $63,000 to Settle EEOC Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

Pest control and landscaping company Massey Services, Inc. will pay $63,000 and provide other significant relief to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that the company violated federal law when it denied an employee's request for medical leave, fired her after learning of her medical condition, and subsequently failed to rehire her for the position that she previously held that remained vacant.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Massey denied former employee Annie Mitchell's request for leave after she became hospitalized due to her disability and instead discharged her from her position. The EEOC's suit further alleges that Massey actively recruited other candidates for Mitchell's office manager position and refused to rehire Mitchell - even though she sought to return to her prior job - in retaliation for her accommodation request, said the EEOC.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Massey Services, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00263) in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. To read more about this go to: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/12-19-19.cfm

US Attorney Reaches Settlements In Restaurant-Access Complaint

The US Attorney's Office for the State of Connecticut reached settlement agreements with the Market Place Kitchen & Bar of 32 Church Hill Road and with its landlord, Mesa Contractors, December 17, to resolve allegations that the restaurant and its premises did not comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The two settlement agreements resolve an ADA complaint filed by an individual with disabilities alleging that the Market Place was not fully accessible for individuals with physical disabilities. The Market Place and Mesa Contractors are in the process of making the changes required by the settlement agreements.

As part of its settlement agreement with the government, the Market Place will provide accessible dining tables throughout its restaurant facility, ensure equivalent service for individuals in the restaurant's bar area, ensure access to the restaurant's patio area, post accessible signage, and ensure that the restaurant's restrooms meet accessibility requirements, according to a statement from the US Attorney.
To read more about this go to: https://www.newtownbee.com/12202019/us-attorney-reaches-settlements-in-restaurant-access-complaint/

Access Board to Assess Feasibility of Wheelchair Restraint Systems on Aircraft

The inability to use one's wheelchair on airplanes makes air travel very difficult, if not impossible, for many people with disabilities. It requires multiple transfers between boarding chairs and aircraft seats, posing injury risks. Airline seats are a poor alternative to personal wheelchairs which are typically customized for the user's safety, comfort, and specific medical needs. Further, passengers' wheelchairs are stowed in the cargo hold and often damaged, mishandled, or lost as a result. To address these challenges, the U.S. Access Board is undertaking a study to assess the feasibility of equipping aircraft with restraint systems so that passengers can remain in their wheelchairs on flights. Congress directed the Board to study this question in its most recent reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. The Board has enlisted the Transportation Research Board (TRB), which is part of the congressionally chartered National Academy of Sciences, to conduct this assessment and to issue a report. The Board and TRB will consult the Department of Transportation, aircraft manufacturers, air carriers, and disability advocates in the course of the study, as directed by the act. To read more about this go to: https://www.access-board.gov/news/1975-access-board-to-assess-feasibility-of-wheelchair-restraint-systems-on-aircraft

Opportunities for You!

Free Audio Conference-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

508 Webinar: Section 508 Questions and Answers with the Access Board and GSA

Tuesday, January 28, 2020, 01:00pm - 02:30pm

In this webinar, Section 508 Specialists at the U.S. Access Board and the General Services Administration will answer your questions about the refreshed Section 508 Standards. The presenters will review questions that commonly arise in applying and meeting the 508 Standards. They will address how the standards are used in the acquisition of information technology, interpretations of various provisions in the standards, how to validate conformance with Section 508 and various types of testing tools, resources that are available to help users understand and implement Section 508, and other topics. The session is intended for an entry level audience, but all are welcome.
For more information and to register, please see: http://www.accessibilityonline.org/cioc-508/session/?id=110777

Special Spotlight:

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, an important time to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease. Currently, more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030, a 58 percent increase. Glaucoma is called "the sneak thief of sight" since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it's permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians. Over 3 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them do not know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we do not raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma. To read more about Glaucoma and see how you can help visit: https://www.glaucoma.org/news/glaucoma-awareness-month.php