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Updated December 15, 2015

EEOC Issues Publications on the Rights of Job Applicants and Employees Who Have HIV Infection

User-Friendly Documents for Doctors and Individuals Living With HIV Infection Explain Workplace Protections Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued two documents addressing workplace rights for individuals with HIV infection under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), including the right to be free from employment discrimination and harassment, and the right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

The White House has issued a National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) for the United States. One of the steps identified by the Strategy is to reduce stigma and eliminate discrimination associated with HIV status and services. EEOC has a long history of enforcing the nondiscrimination rights of individuals with HIV infection in employment. During Fiscal Year 2014 alone, EEOC resolved almost 200 charges of discrimination based on HIV status, obtaining over $825,000.00 for job applicants and employees with HIV who were unlawfully denied employment and reasonable accommodations. EEOC now extends these efforts by issuing two documents that explain these rights.

"We are proud to be a part of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy," said EEOC Chair Jenny Yang. "Individuals with HIV infection should know that the ADA protects their rights in the workplace, including the right to reasonable accommodations. By clarifying these rights, and explaining to doctors how they can support their patients' requests for reasonable accommodation, these publications demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that individuals with HIV infection have full access to employment."

Living With HIV Infection: Your Legal Rights in the Workplace Under the ADA explains that applicants and employees are protected from employment discrimination and harassment based on HIV infection, and that individuals with HIV infection have a right to reasonable accommodations at work. It also answers questions about the process for obtaining an accommodation; possible accommodations; the privacy rights of people who have HIV infection; the employer's obligation to keep medical information confidential; and the role of EEOC in enforcing the rights of people with disabilities.

Helping Patients with HIV Infection Who Need Accommodations at Work explains to doctors that patients with HIV infection may be able to get reasonable accommodations that help them to stay productive and employed, and provides them with instructions on how to support requests for accommodation with medical documentation. It also answers questions about the types of accommodations that may be available; the ADA's protections against employment discrimination based on having the condition or on the need for accommodation; the importance of disclosing the need for an accommodation before a problem occurs; and what to do when an employer raises safety concerns.

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

Updated August 3, 2015

Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates 25th anniversary; Survey sheds insight on law’s impact

HOUSTON (July 17, 2015) – Hailed as the Bill of Rights for individuals with disabilities, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 has fulfilled much of its promise since it went into effect 25 years ago, according to a survey of disability leaders. But the findings also reveal ongoing and emerging challenges and areas of opportunity.

Lex Frieden, a professor of biomedical informatics and rehabilitation at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), in conjunction with the ADA Participation Action Research Consortium, authored the non-scientific survey to gauge the ADA’s impact on individuals with disabilities and the broader disability community after 25 years. In follow up to a similar survey conducted in 2010, this year’s survey polled 725 participants, representing more than 600 communities across all 50 states and three of the five U.S. territories.

Frieden, who uses a wheelchair following a 1967 traffic accident in which his spinal cord was severed, was instrumental in conceiving and drafting the ADA, which was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The ADA was intended to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Requiring shops, restaurants, theaters, hotels and other public places to make accommodations for people with disabilities, the ADA made it possible for all members – with or without a disability – to engage in everyday activities, such as going to school or work and taking public transportation. The U.S. Census Bureau reports nearly one in five live with a disability, or approximately 57 million Americans.

Frieden also directs the Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) program at TIRR Memorial Hermann and is convener of the National Advisory Board (NAB) on Improving Health Care Services for Seniors and People with Disabilities, a partnership with Anthem Inc. to provide guidance and policy recommendations – both to Anthem and the broader healthcare industry – for improving programs and services for older adults and individuals with disabilities.

“Eighty-four percent of survey respondents believe the quality of life for individuals with disabilities in communities across the United States has improved greatly since the passage of the ADA,” Frieden said. “Moreover, two-thirds of the survey respondents with disabilities believe the ADA legislation has had more influence on their lives than any other social, cultural or legislative change in the last 20 years.”

“But, respondents also pointed out that there are opportunities to be realized and challenges to be overcome,” Frieden said.

One survey respondent wrote: “I am able to work, volunteer at my son’s school, and receive help from government agencies because of the ADA. Most importantly, I am able to be a vibrant part of the community because of the ADA, which has a big impact on people with and without disabilities.”

Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed agreed access to public accommodations, retail and commercial establishments has shown the greatest improvement since the passage of the ADA. “The ADA has helped people gain access… with attention to things like curb cuts, accessible parking, buses with lifts and ramps, etc.—making media more accessible with closed captioning and relay services,” wrote one respondent.

Survey respondents also described remarkable improvements in the area of transportation for individuals with disabilities and credited the ADA with advancing access to independent and community living and public awareness about the ADA and disability etiquette. With regard to independent and community living, another respondent shared, “As a parent who uses a wheelchair, and has two children (now eight and 10) who have mobility impairments, the ADA’s impact on ‘simple things’ like accessible restrooms and accessible diaper changing stations has made all the difference in my family’s successful inclusion in our community.”

According to Frieden, challenges to full ADA implementation persist. Not all respondents expressed satisfaction with employment opportunities for people with disabilities. “Although there has been significant improvement in employment rates, retention and workplace accommodations for individuals with disabilities since 1990, there continues to be large disparities between Americans with disabilities and without, as evidenced by the employment rates of 17.6 percent and 64 percent, respectively,” said Frieden. “The survey underscores the need for aggressive action to implement those provisions of the ADA requiring equal opportunity in employment, access to healthcare, accessible housing and alternatives to institutionalization.”

Updated June 30, 2015

National study finds deaf, hard of hearing, and those in wheelchairs told about fewer homes

WASHINGTON – Well-qualified homeseekers who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as homeseekers who use wheelchairs, are told about fewer available housing units than comparable homeseekers who can hear and walk, according to a new study released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Urban Institute. Discrimination in the Rental Housing Market Against People Who Are Deaf and People Who Use Wheelchairs finds that people who are deaf or who use wheelchairs are at a statistically significant disadvantage when it comes to the number of homes they are informed about.

“ Every American deserves the opportunity to secure a home,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “But the evidence is clear: people who are hearing-impaired or in wheelchairs face unacceptable and unjust discrimination. HUD will continue to work with our fair housing partners to protect the rights of Americans with disabilities and to promote opportunity for all.”

Key findings of the report include:

Discrimination against people who are deaf or hard of hearing

  • When well-qualified homeseekers who are deaf or hard of hearing contact housing providers and use assistive communication technologies to inquire about recently advertised rental housing, providers are less likely to respond to their inquiries.
  • The extent of apparent discrimination against people who are deaf or hard of hearing varies with the type of communication technology the deaf or hard of hearing tester uses to make contact with housing providers. Housing providers are more resistant to dealing with the older (but still widely used) telephone technologies which have longer communication delays.
  • When they do respond, the housing providers tell homeseekers who are deaf or hard of hearing about fewer available housing options than they tell comparable homeseekers who are hearing.

Discrimination against people who use wheelchairs

  • Well-qualified homeseekers who use wheelchairs are more likely to be denied an appointment to view recently advertised rental housing in buildings with accessible units than comparably qualified homeseekers who are ambulatory.
  • Those who do receive an appointment are less likely than their ambulatory counterparts to be told about and shown suitable housing units.
  • When homeseekers who use a wheelchair ask about modifications that would make the available housing more accessible to them, housing providers agree in most instances. However in approximately a quarter of the requests, housing providers either failed to provide a clear response or explicitly denied modification requests.

The Urban Institute, which conducted the study, employed a “paired testing” methodology in which researchers compared the treatment of persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, and those who are wheelchair bound, against those who can hear and not wheelchair bound. The paired testing track for people who were deaf or hard of hearing included 1,665 remote telephone tests conducted in a national sample of 168 metropolitan areas that contained more than four-fifths (82%)of the population that is deaf or hard of hearing and that resides in rental housing. The national sample for people who use wheelchairs included 1,259 tests in 30 metropolitan areas containing almost three-quarters (73%) of the population that has a mobility disability and that resides in rental housing.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. Discrimination complaints made on the basis of physical and mental disabilities have increased over time to become the largest share of complaints received by federal and local agencies and private fair housing organizations. In FY 2014, disability was the most common basis of complaints filed with HUD and its partner agencies, being cited as a basis for 4,606 complaints, or 54 percent of the overall total.

Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, whichcan be accessed through Apple devices, such as iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, as well as Android devices.

Updated April 23, 2015

U.S. Access Board Webinar: Application of the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards (May 7)

The next webinar in the U.S. Access Board's free monthly series will take place May 7 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will cover application of the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards in new construction, alterations, and additions. The session will address the scope of the standards, which encompass a wide range of facilities in the public and private sectors, and review scoping provisions for spaces and elements, general exceptions, and other provisions relevant to application. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the webinar.

For more information, including registration instructions, visit www.accessibilityonline.org.

Justice Department Sues Fort Worth, Texas, for Disability Discrimination

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the city of Fort Worth, Texas, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, charges that Fort Worth discriminated against persons with disabilities based on its treatment of a group home for persons recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, including the city’s failure to grant a reasonable accommodation to the owner of the group home.

The suit seeks a court order prohibiting future discrimination by Fort Worth and requiring Fort Worth to make a reasonable accommodation to permit the continued operation of “Ebby’s Place” as a group home for up to eight individuals with disabilities. It also seeks monetary damages to compensate victims, as well as payment of a civil penalty.

This lawsuit arose as a result of a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by Ben Patterson, who through Ebby’s Place LLC, owns and operates the group home known as Ebby’s Place.

“The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act seek to ensure that individuals with disabilities can live in communities of their choice without facing discrimination,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “We will continue our vigorous enforcement efforts to make certain that persons with disabilities are granted their rights under federal law.”

“While we appreciate the City’s cooperation with this investigation, its refusal, as a governmental entity, to consider those recovering from drug or alcohol addiction as persons with disabilities is at odds with federal law,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas. “Simply put, the residents of Ebby’s Place are deserving of the same protections as persons with any other disability.”

“Through our Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, HUD is working to ensure that housing options for persons with disabilities are not limited by restrictive zoning rules,” said Assistant Secretary Gustavo Velasquez of HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office.

Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. Visit www.usdoj.gov/crt for more information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces. Additional information about the Fair Housing Act is available at www.HUD.gov. Additional information about the Americans with Disabilities Act is available at www.ADA.gov.

Updated March 2, 2015

EEOC Sues S&B Industry for Disability Discrimination

Fort Worth Cellphone Repair Facility Refused to Hire Two Hearing-Impaired Applicants Because of Their Disability, Federal Agency Charges

DALLAS - S&B Industry, Inc., a Fort Worth cellphone repair facility, violated federal law by denying employment to two hearing-impaired applicants because of their disability, the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission charged in a lawsuit it filed. The EEOC's suit also alleged that S&B Industry violated the law by denying the two applicants a reasonable accommodation during the application process.

According to the EEOC, Katelynn Baker and Tia Rice went together and applied for jobs with S&B Industry, Inc. (also doing business as Fox Conn S&B) in the company's cellphone repair facility. Baker and Rice went through an interview and orientation process with S&B Industry, during which they received badges. During the orientation, Baker and Rice used American Sign Language to communicate with one another, and the company became aware that they were hearing-impaired. In a meeting with one of the supervisors, Baker and Rice requested that she provide written information about the positions for which they were applying. The supervisor initially complied, but then refused to continue writing information for Baker and Rice, thereby refusing to provide them with a reason­able accommodation. Baker and Rice were told that S&B Industry would not hire them, and their badges were confiscated.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees' and applicants' disabilities as long as this does not pose an undue hardship. The EEOC sued in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 3:15-00641-D) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief, including the formulation of policies to prevent disability discrimination. The suit also seeks lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages for the two women.

" The EEOC will pursue the statutory rights of these two women who were willing, able and excited to start work for the company," said Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas District Office. "We will steadfastly address those situations in which employers deny disabled applicants an opportunity to be fully considered at the interview or orientation stage of hiring."

Joel Clark, senior trial attorney for the EEOC, added, "Managers refused to discuss these applicants' reasonable requests for accommodation, but instead just assumed they could not do the job. The ADA was enacted to prevent that kind of misguided, fear-driven reaction."

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment dis­crim­ination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Updated February 13, 2015

Houston: Epicenter in the Fight for Disability Rights

A Presentation by Lex Frieden, Southwest ADA Center at TIRR Memorial Hermann

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the passage of the ADA, HTV-HD and Focus on Abilities have produced a video tribute, memorializing the roles of Houstonians and Texans in the passage and enactment of the ADA. The program features archival news clips and videos. It provides a compelling insight into the physical, social and political challenges faced by people with disabilities in their struggle to overcome discrimination and achieve equal rights. This documentary will include a presentation made at City Hall to mark this significant moment in the development of a more just society.

Updated February 2, 2015

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Nueces County, Texas, to Improve Accessibility of Services and Programs

January 30, 2015

The Department of Justice announced an agreement with Nueces County, Texas, to resolve issues of accessible entry inside buildings that offer county services and programs, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This year marks the 25th anniversary of the ADA, which the Civil Rights Division plays a critical role in enforcing. In honor of the anniversary, each month the Department of Justice will spotlight efforts that are opening gateways to full participation and opportunity for people with disabilities.
Nueces County and the U.S. Department of Justice reached an agreement under Project Civic Access (PCA), the department’s wide-ranging initiative to ensure that cities, towns and counties throughout the country comply with the ADA. One of the hallmarks of the agreement is the requirement that the county will assess all existing web content and online services for conformance with industry guidelines—the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0—for making web content accessible.

The agreement with Nueces County will allow people with disabilities, like Marshall Burns, who was invited to present at the Coastal Bend Hurricane Conference in Nueces County. Unfortunately, when Burns tried to register online for the conference, he wasn’t able to do so because he is blind. The forms on the county website were incompatible with the software program that reads text out loud to him. Experiences like this, however, will become a thing of the past over the next three years thanks to the PCA agreement. You can learn more about Burns’ story by checking out the Justice Department blog where we will highlight each month different ways the ADA benefits people with disabilities.

Under the agreement announced today, Nueces County, Texas, will also ensure that people with disabilities—especially people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices—can get inside buildings that offer county services and programs. That means the county will renovate everything from entrances, service areas and counters, restrooms, and parking so that people with disabilities can get into county buildings and use services and programs the county offers. Sidewalks and curb cuts all over the county will also be targeted—another change that promises to significantly improve life for people with disabilities in Nueces County.

“ Over the past 15 years, nearly 220 communities have signed agreements with the Department of Justice to ensure that their citizens with disabilities enjoy the same services, programs and activities that all others enjoy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division. “Participation in and enjoyment of the benefits of the services, programs and activities provided by local government is a fundamental civil right and the ADA is shaping the way local municipalities deliver their services to people with disabilities.”

For more information about the ADA, today’s agreement, the Project Civic Access initiative, individuals may access the ADA Web page at http://www.ada.gov/civicac.htm or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

Updated December 3, 2014

Paloma Blanca in Albuquerque Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit for $145,000

Employee's Firing Was Because of Disabilities, Federal Agency Charged

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Paloma Blanca Health Care Associates, LLC, d/b/a Paloma Blanca Health and Rehabilitation, which owns and operates a health and rehabilitation center in Albuquerque, has agreed to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $145,000 and other relief.

According to the EEOC's suit, EEOC v. Paloma Blanca Health Care Associates, LLC, d/b/a Paloma Blanca Health and Rehabilitation, 14-CV-0235 JCH/SCY, Paloma Blanca refused to reasonably accommodate Doug Johnson's disabilities. The company then fired him because of his medical conditions and/or because he requested the reasonable accommodations he needed.

In January, 2008, Paloma Blanca hired Johnson as a driver in its Paloma Blanca Health & Rehab Center in Albuquerque. As a driver, Johnson drove a van and took nursing home patients to medical appointments. Approximately two years later, Paloma Blanca began to require Johnson to perform the duties of the central supply clerk position in addition to his regular driving duties. In this capacity, Johnson ordered medicines, diapers and any items the facility needed (with the exception of food items). In November of 2011, Johnson had a heart attack and was also diagnosed with other medical conditions, including unstable angina, coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus and neuropathy. Johnson requested a reasonable accommodation for his disabilities, in the form of a request for leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Paloma Blanca approved 12 weeks of FMLA leave for Johnson and notified him of their decision by letter dated Nov. 28, 2011.

After only five weeks of FMLA leave, in a letter dated Jan. 5, 2012, Paloma Blanca notified Johnson that it had eliminated his position and were laying him off due to a "reduction in force" effective Dec. 31, 2011. However, no other employees were subjected to a reduction in force at that time, the EEOC said, and there were no department- or facility-wide reductions in force during December 2011.

Disability discrimination, including the failure to make reasonable accommodation for disabilities, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the substantial monetary relief, the decree requires Paloma Blanca to expunge from Johnson's personnel file any references to the allegations of discrimination, Johnson's participation in the lawsuit or his disabilities. It also provides an injunction against any future employment practices that discriminate or retaliate and requires Paloma Blanca to review and distribute to employees its policies regarding disability discrimination and retaliation. The company also agreed to provide its employees with training regarding disability discrimination and procedures for handling requests for reasonable accommodation. Finally, Paloma Blanca will post a notice emphasizing the company's equal employment opportunity policy and reaffirming its commitment to providing reasonable accommodations for employees and applicants with disabilities.

"Employers must address employee requests for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities and must assure that employment decisions are not based on them," said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office. "They must comply with federal law or be subjected to the EEOC's vigorous enforcement of the rights of the disabled to fair treatment under the law. One would hope that a health and rehab center in particular would be more sensitive and attentive to the rights and needs of employees with medical conditions."

EEOC Albuquerque Area Director Derick L. Newton added, "We are pleased that this employer is now taking appropriate steps to assure that reasonable accommodation procedures are in place and publicized in the workplace. We are also very pleased that we could assist Doug Johnson to resolve this matter at a time when he was most vulnerable."

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Updated October 16, 2014

US Labor Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy announces launch of Web portal on accessible workplace technology

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy today announced the launch of http://www.PEATworks.org - a comprehensive Web portal spearheaded by ODEP's Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. From educational articles to interactive tools, the website's content aims to help employers and the technology industry adopt accessible technology as part of everyday business practice so that all workers can benefit.

PEATworks.org will be the central hub of PEAT, a multifaceted initiative to improve the employment, retention and career advancement of people with disabilities through the promotion of accessible technology. PEAT conducts outreach, facilitates collaboration and provides a mix of resources to serve as a catalyst for policy development and innovation related to accessible technology in the workplace.

" PEAT is the only entity of its kind bringing together employers, technology providers, thought leaders and technology users around the topic of accessible technology and employment," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez. "Given the critical role that accessible technology plays in the employment of people with disabilities, ODEP is delighted to announce the launch of PEATworks.org, with its rich array of tools and resources.

Features of PEATworks.org include an action guide for employers and informational articles, and it will serve as a platform for collaboration and dialogue around accessible technology in the workplace. Also featured is "TechCheck," an interactive tool to help employers assess their technology accessibility practices and find resources to help develop them further.

ODEP is announcing the launch of PEATworks.org during National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual series of events in October that raise awareness and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.

PEAT is managed through an ODEP-funded grant to the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America. For more information, visit http://www.PEATworks.org.

Updated October 13, 2014

EEOC Sues FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., for Nationwide Disability Discrimination

Shipping Giant Repeatedly Failed to Provide Needed Accommodations to Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Package Handlers and Applicants, Federal Agency Charges

BALTIMORE - Shipping giant FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., (FedEx Ground) violated federal law nationwide by discriminating against a large class of deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers and job applicants for years, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

The EEOC says that FedEx Ground failed to provide needed accommodations such as American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and closed-captioned training videos during the mandatory initial tour of the facilities and new-hire orientation for deaf and hard-of-hearing applicants. The shipping company also failed to provide such accommodations during staff, performance, and safety meetings. Package handlers physically load and unload packages from delivery vehicles, place and reposition packages in FedEx Ground's conveyor systems, and scan, sort and route packages.

The EEOC charges that, in addition to failing to provide communications-based accommodations for mandatory meetings, FedEx Ground refused to provide needed equipment substitutions and modifications for deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers, such as providing scanners that vibrate instead of beep and installing flashing safety lights on moving equipment.

These widespread failures to provide reasonable accommodations occurred despite FedEx Ground having longstanding knowledge that it receives applications from, and has employed, a significant number of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the package handler position throughout the country, including at facilities in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Maryland, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Oregon, Utah, and West Virginia.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of disability. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with a disability unless the employer can show that doing so would be an undue hardship.

The EEOC's lawsuit arose as a result of 19 charges filed throughout the country citing discrimination against deaf and hard-of-hearing people by FedEx Ground. The agency consolidated these charges and conducted a nationwide systemic investigation of these violations. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (EEOC v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-03081-WMN), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr, said "FedEx Ground failed to engage in an interactive process with deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers and applicants to address their needs and to provide them with reasonable accommodations. That's why we filed this lawsuit -- to remedy alleged pervasive violations of the ADA on a national level."

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "Common sense, let alone federal legal requirements, would dictate that FedEx Ground should have provided effective accommodations to enable people with hearing difficulties to obtain workplace information that is disseminated in meetings and in training sessions. EEOC contends that by failing to do so, FedEx Ground has marginalized disabled workers and hindered job performance. This is a 'lose/lose scenario.'"

EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Maria Luisa Morocco noted, "The law is clear: Employers have to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing job applicants and employees are afforded equal employment opportunities - which includes the full benefits and privileges of employment, such as being informed of performance expectations and safety requirements."

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against people with disabilities as well as other groups, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan. Preventing workplace harassment through systemic litigation and investigation is another SEP national priority for the agency.

According to its website, http://about.van.fedex.com/fedex_ground, FedEx Ground had revenue of $11.6 billion in fiscal year 2014 and employed more than 65,000 people.

The EEOC Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecutes discrimination cases arising from Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.

Updated October 3, 2014

Justice Department Releases New Technical Assistance on the Voting Rights of People with Disabilities

The Justice Department announced today it has published a new technical assistance publication about federal laws that protect the rights of voters with disabilities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act. The publication, “The Americans with Disabilities Act & Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities,” is intended to help election officials, poll workers and voters understand how the ADA and other federal laws ensure equality in the voting process for people with disabilities.

“The right to vote is the foundation upon which our country is built,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division. “For too long in our history, many people with disabilities have been excluded from exercising this fundamental right and have been prevented from being a full participant in our democracy. A number of federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Voting Rights Act, have been put in place to address fairness in the voting process for people with disabilities. The Justice Department is fully committed to enforcing these laws to ensure that voters with disabilities are no longer discriminated against in the election process.”

The publication provides guidance about how the federal disability rights laws apply to the election process, from registration to voting. The publication discusses the need for policies, procedures, and programs to be in place to ensure that voters with disabilities are not discriminated against or illegally excluded from voting. For example, the guidance discusses local governments’ obligations under the ADA to ensure polling places are physically accessible to voters with mobility disabilities, as well as their obligation to provide effective communication with voters who have vision and hearing disabilities. Voters with disabilities must be able to access their polling place like everyone else, and vote alongside their neighbors and friends.

The “The Americans with Disabilities Act & Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities” publication may be found at http://www.ada.gov/ada_voting/ada_voting_ta.pdf or http://www.ada.gov/ada_voting/ada_voting_ta.htm. Those interested in finding out more about the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 1-800-514-0301 (V) or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY), or visit its ADA website at www.ada.gov. ADA complaints may be filed by email to ada.complaint@usdoj.gov.

Announcing A New Webinar Series: Emergency Management and Preparedness - Including People With Disabilities

Produced by the Pacific ADA Center of the ADA National Network in conjunction with FEMA - ODIC

The Office of Disability Integration & Coordination (ODIC) at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network, led by the Pacific ADA Center, have joined forces to offer monthly webinars.
When: Beginning October 9, 2014, the webinars will share issues and promising practices in emergency management and preparedness inclusive of people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.

Who should attend: The webinars will provide an exciting opportunity for emergency managers, people with disabilities, first responders, planners, community organizations, and other community partners to exchange knowledge and information on promising practices in inclusive emergency preparedness for the whole community.

What will be covered: Topics will relate to emergency preparedness and disaster response, recovery and mitigation as well as accessibility and reasonable accommodation issues under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and other relevant laws. Six of the webinars will be “FEMA Promising Practices” and the other six will be “ADA National Network Learning Sessions.”

The FIRST webinar of the series is:
ADA National Network Learning Session: Effective Communications for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
October 9, 2014
Time: 2:30pm ET/1:30pm CT/12:30 pm MT/11:30am PT/8:30am Hawaii

In an emergency, communication is crucial to the safety of all citizens. What happens to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf blind during an emergency? This session will explore how the effective communication provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act apply in emergency situations. What happens when interpreters aren't available? What technologies are important to incorporate during the notification, sheltering, evacuation and recovery stages? Implementation and culturally affirmative communication strategies will also be discussed.

Presenter: Candice Alder Outreach Consultant for the Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) will offer best practice solutions and compliance strategies that provide greater access for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. In addition to providing training seminars on the ADA, Candice has worked in conjunction with several state, county and city government agencies on providing greater communication access through outreach, consultation and technical assistance efforts. She also provided trainings to deaf and hard of hearing communities on their rights - while educating businesses and government agencies on their responsibilities under the ADA since 2002 as an ADA expert and trainer. She interned at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind (CSDB).

Registration: Free on-line at http://www.adapresentations.org/registration.php

These 90 minute webinars are delivered using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform and all sessions will be fully accessible and real time captioned for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

To view all of the sessions for the coming year, or to see previous sessions, go to http://www.adapresentations.org/schedule.php

Updated September 24, 2014

Apria Healthcare Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Company Fired Warehouse Clerk After Surgery for a Tumor, Federal Agency Charged

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Apria Healthcare Group, Inc., an Albuquerque home respiratory services and medical equipment company, violated federal law by discharging a warehouse clerk because she had had serious tumor surgery, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on September 18.

In its suit, the EEOC said that Apria Healthcare fired Hilda Padilla after she returned from a medical leave to remove a 23-pound tumor. The EEOC said that Padilla returned to work on July 6, 2009, only one week after she returned from a medical leave, and provided Apria with notice of her medical restrictions. After Apria learned of the seriousness of Padilla's surgery, it terminated her, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on disability. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Apria Healthcare Group, Inc., Civil Action No.1:14-cv-00851-LAM-KBM) after attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The lawsuit asks the court to order the employer to provide Padilla with appropriate relief, including back wages and compensatory and punitive damages, and to permanently enjoin the company from engaging in any further disability discrimination. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent disability discrimination in the workplace.

" One would hope that a health care organization would be the employer least likely to fire someone because she was recovering from serious surgery," said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and parts of New Mexico, including Albuquerque. "Such conduct is not only cruel and insensitive, it's illegal, and the EEOC is here to combat it."

EEOC Area Director Derrick Newton added, "Employers have an obligation to not base employment decisions that affect people's lives upon assumptions relating to a person's disability -- or what the employer believes is a disability."
Apria Healthcare provides home respiratory services and medical equipment to patients with special needs.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Updated September 3, 2014

Gretchen Jacobs Named U.S. Access Board's General Counsel

Gretchen Jacobs has joined the Access Board as its new general counsel. An experienced federal litigator and regulatory practitioner, Jacobs has particular expertise in litigation of administrative law issues, federal regulatory processes, and cost-benefit analyses.
Jacobs comes to the Board from the Administrative Conference of the United States where she served as Research Director since 2012. This followed a distinguished career of 22 years at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) where she worked in a variety of positions. Jacobs joined DOJ as an Honor's Program trial attorney at the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division and served as lead counsel in over 30 federal district and appellate cases nationwide.

Later, as a member of DOJ's Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division, she litigated enforcement actions under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including as lead counsel in a major case concerning access to stadium-style movie theaters. She also served as a senior regulatory advisor on ADA implementation efforts where her responsibilities included conducting cost-benefit analyses, advising DOJ officials on legal and policy issues, and representing DOJ in discussions with other federal entities on regulatory matters. She was active in DOJ's development of ADA regulations and standards and regulatory initiatives concerning Next Generation 9-1-1, website accessibility, the ADA Amendments Act, and medical diagnostic equipment. She received merit awards throughout her tenure at DOJ, including the Civil Rights Division's highest awards for her leadership on ADA regulations and related cost-benefit analyses.

Earlier in her federal career, Jacobs served as a law clerk to Judge Warren J. Ferguson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and as a judicial extern to Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg during her term on the District of Columbia Circuit Court. Jacobs, a native of California, graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Law School with honors (Order of the Coif) and earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of California at Berkeley.

Jacobs will join the Board on September 8. She succeeds James Raggio who retired in June after 25 years of service.

Updated August 15, 2014

Department of Justice Reaches Agreement with the Louisiana Supreme Court to Protect Bar Candidates with Disabilities

The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into a settlement agreement with the Louisiana Supreme Court that will resolve the department’s investigation of the court’s policies, practices and procedures for evaluating bar applicants with mental health disabilities. The department’s investigation found that during the Louisiana bar admissions process licensing entities based recommendations about bar admission on mental health diagnosis and treatment rather than conduct that would warrant denial of admission to the bar.

The settlement agreement ensures the right of qualified bar applicants with mental health disabilities to have equal access to the legal profession as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It prohibits the court from asking unnecessary and intrusive questions about bar applicants’ mental health diagnosis or treatment. It also requires the court to refrain from imposing unnecessary and burdensome conditions on bar applicants with mental health disabilities, such as requests for medical records, compulsory medical examinations or onerous monitoring and reporting requirements. Title II of the ADA prohibits public entities, including licensing entities, from imposing unnecessary eligibility criteria that tend to screen out individuals with disabilities, or imposing unnecessary burdens on individuals with disabilities that are not imposed on others.

The department found that diagnosis and treatment, without problematic conduct, did not effectively predict future misconduct as an attorney and did not justify restrictions on admission. Yet the Louisiana bar admissions process imposed unnecessary burdens on applicants and attorneys based on their diagnosis and treatment, in violation of the ADA. Questions about mental health diagnosis and treatment, such as those used by Louisiana, are counterproductive to licensing entities’ interest in attorney fitness because individuals who would benefit from mental health treatment may be deterred from obtaining it by the knowledge that they will have to disclose their treatment to licensing authorities.

“Today’s agreement will ensure that qualified bar applicants with mental health disabilities are able to pursue their dream of becoming licensed attorneys, without discrimination based on diagnosis or treatment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division. “Qualified individuals with disabilities, including mental health disabilities, have valuable contributions to make to the legal profession and to their communities. Their diagnosis should not hinder or prevent them from doing so. Though bar licensing entities have the important responsibility of ensuring that all licensed attorneys are fit to practice law, licensing entities must discharge this responsibility in a manner that is consistent with civil rights laws.”

“This agreement is a testament to the United States Department of Justice’s commitment to fighting discrimination against persons with disabilities and further ensures that qualified individuals will have the opportunity to pursue their career goals and make valuable contributions to our community,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite Jr. for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “The cooperation between the parties in reaching this agreement demonstrates a shared priority of protecting against discrimination.”

Under the agreement, the court will, among other actions:

  • Revise its character and fitness screening questions so that they focus on applicants’ conduct or behavior, and ask about an applicant’s condition or impairment only when it currently affects the applicant’s ability to practice law in a competent, ethical and professional manner or is disclosed to explain conduct that may otherwise warrant denial of admission;
  • Refrain from imposing unnecessary burdens on applicants with mental health disabilities by placing onerous disability-based conditions on their admission, invading their privacy, or violating their confidentiality;
  • Re-evaluate prior and pending applications of applicants who disclosed mental health disabilities under the revised, non-discriminatory procedures set forth in the agreement; and
  • Pay $200,000 to compensate a number of affected bar applicants and attorneys.

Since the department’s letter of findings concluding that the court was in violation of Title II of the ADA was issued in February, the court has worked cooperatively with the department to negotiate an agreement and to implement corrective measures.

The department has also raised issues about unnecessary bar application questions related to mental health disabilities with the states of Vermont and Connecticut and with the National Council of Bar Examiners (NCBE). The NCBE revised two of its questions about mental health on February 24, 2014.

More information about this settlement agreement and the obligations of licensing entities under the ADA may be found at www.ada.gov or by calling the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY).

Updated August 14, 2014

Guide on Access to Outdoor Sites Available from the Board

A new guide on achieving accessible outdoor sites, including trails and camping areas, is now available from the Access Board (electronic versions only, not print copies). The 100-page document discusses and illustrates provisions of accessibility guidelines the Board issued last fall for outdoor sites developed by the federal government. These guidelines provide detailed specifications for accessible trails, picnic and camping areas, viewing areas, beach access routes and other components of outdoor developed areas when newly built or altered.

The new guide serves as a companion resource to the guidelines by explaining the intent of various requirements and how they can be met. It discusses provisions for trails and trailheads, outdoor recreation access routes, and beach access routes such as those addressing surface characteristics, width, and running and cross slopes. Outdoor constructed features, including viewing areas, camp sites, tent pads and platforms, picnic tables, grills, fire rings, and toilet and bathing facilities are also covered. In addition, the guide explains exceptions in the guidelines that may apply where compliance is not practicable because of terrain, prevailing construction practices, or other specified conditions.

The provisions for outdoor developed areas are part of the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards and apply to federal agencies that develop outdoor areas for recreational purposes, including the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation. However, the guidelines and companion guide can be used as a resource by other entities, including those subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), in addressing access to outdoor sites.

For further information, visit the outdoor homepage or contact Bill Botten at (202) 272-0014 (v), (202) 272-0073 (TTY), or outdoor@access-board.gov.

FCC Adopts Rules to Promote Widespread Text-to-911 Availability

Building on the Progress of Large Wireless Carriers, FCC Establishes Timetable for Remaining Text Messaging Providers to Support Text-to-911

August 8, 2014. Washington, D.C. –The Federal Communications Commission today adopted rules requiring text messaging providers to enable Americans to text 911 in an emergency. Building on commitments made by America’s four largest wireless carriers to support text-to-911 by May 2014, the new rules will ensure that all remaining wireless carriers and certain IP-based text application providers are prepared to support text- to-911 by the end of the year. After that time, if a 911 call center requests text-to-911, text messaging
providers will have six months to deploy the service in that area.

Today’s action will make text-to-911 more uniformly available and keeps pace with how Americans communicate. Reports indicate that more than 7 out of 10 cell phone users send or receive text messages. Text messaging is also widely used by Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities.

The Commission’s text-to-911 requirements apply to wireless carriers and “interconnected” text messaging providers (i.e., those which enable consumers to send text messages to and from U.S. phone numbers). This includes providers of “over the top” applications that support texting to and from phone numbers but not, for example, messaging apps that only support communications among users of games or social media.

The Commission also adopted a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on the continued evolution of text-to-911, including the delivery of location information and support for text-to- 911 when roaming.

Although text-to-911 availability is currently limited, it is rapidly expanding. More than one hundred 911 call centers serving portions of 16 states and two entire states (Vermont and Maine) are now accepting emergency texts, and there are already reports of lives saved. To help protect consumers as text-to-911 is deployed, the Commission previously adopted rules requiring text messaging providers to send an automatic “bounce-back” text message to consumers who try to text 911 where the service is not available.

Text-to-911 can provide a lifesaving alternative in a number of different situations, such as where a person who is deaf, hard of hearing, or has a speech disability is unable to make a voice call; where voice networks are congested; or where a 911 voice call could endanger the caller. Approximately 48 million Americans are deaf or hard of hearing, and approximately 7.5 million Americans have speech disabilities. However text-to- 911 is a complement to, not a substitute for, existing voice-based 911 service, so consumers should make a voice call to contact 911 during an emergency when possible; consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled should use relay services or other existing methods to contact 911 if text-to-911 is unavailable.

Updated July 25, 2014

Justice Department Announces Proposed Amendment to Americans with Disabilities Act Regulations to Expand Access to Movie Theaters for Individuals with Hearing and Vision Disabilities

The Justice Department announced today that Attorney General Eric Holder has signed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend the Title III regulation for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to require movie theaters to provide closed movie captioning and audio description in order to give persons with hearing and vision disabilities access to movies.

" This proposed rule will allow all Americans, including those with disabilities, to fully participate in the moviegoing experience. With this proposal, the Justice Department is taking an important step to ensure consistent access for people with vision and hearing disabilities," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "Twenty-four years after its passage, the Americans with Disabilities Act remains a critical tool for extending the promise of opportunity and inclusion for everyone in this country."

Closed movie captioning refers to captions that are delivered to the patron’s seat and are visible only to that patron. Audio description enables individuals who are blind or have low vision to enjoy movies by providing a spoken narration of key visual elements of a movie, such as actions, settings, facial expressions, costumes and scene changes. Audio description is transmitted to a user’s wireless headset. The department is proposing to provide a consistent nationwide standard for movie theaters to exhibit movies that are available with closed movie captioning and audio description for all showings. The department is also proposing to require theaters to provide a specific number of closed captioning and audio description devices. Theaters need not comply with the proposed rule if doing so would cause an undue burden or fundamental alteration. The department is not proposing to require movie theaters to add captions or audio description to movies that are not already produced and distributed with these features.

The department is proposing a six-month compliance date for movie theaters’ digital movie screens and is seeking public comment on whether it should adopt a four-year compliance date for movie theaters’ analog movie screens or should defer rulemaking on analog screens until a later date.

“ As we celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Saturday, we are reminded that people with disabilities still do not have full access to all aspects of American cultural life,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “Although some movie theaters are making strides towards meeting their ADA obligations, there is a good deal of inconsistency among theaters across the United States. This proposed rule is intended to ensure that, regardless of where a person with a hearing or vision disability lives, that person will be able to attend movies with their friends and family and fully enjoy this important social and cultural activity.”

On July 26, 2010, the department published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) asking how requirements for movie captions and audio description should be implemented. The ANPRM sought public comment regarding the type of accessibility requirements for captioning and video [audio] description the department should consider, particularly in light of the industry’s conversion to digital cinema technology. The department received more than a thousand comments in response to the ANPRM and these comments were taken into consideration when developing the proposed rule.

The department intends to publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register in the near future, and public comments on the NPRM will be due 60 days from the date the rule is published.

The NPRM is available for review on the ADA website.

Those interested in finding out more about the ADA may call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TTY 800-514-0383) or visit the ADA website.

Updated July 23, 2014

ADA 25th Anniversary Legacy Tour debuts at Abilities Expo, July 25-27 with Press Conference and Mayoral Proclamation

HOUSTON, July 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- To commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the historic passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA25), the long-anticipated ADA Legacy Tour will kick off at Abilities Expo Houston on July 25, 2014 at NRG Center (formerly Reliant Center), Hall E. Media will arrive between 11:00 and 11:15 am for the 11:30 am press conference which will be led by Lex Frieden, renowned disability rights activists and one of the chief architects of the Americans with Disabilities Act. During the conference, the Office of the Mayor Annise Parker will bestow a proclamation to memorialize the occasion.

The ADA Legacy Tour is a traveling exhibit designed to raise public awareness and generate excitement about ADA25 and is produced by The ADA Legacy Project, Disability Rights Center, ADA National Network and the Museum of disABILITY History. As the premier event for people with disabilities, Abilities Expo Houston on July 25-27, 2014 is the ideal launching pad for the year-long, nationwide tour which will culminate in Washington DC on July 26, 2015, exactly 25 years after President George HW Bush signed the ADA into law.

As a part of Abilities Expo, the ADA Legacy Tour will feature the ADA Bus, a four-panel display on the history of self-advocacy, displays on the preservation of disability history, celebrations of disability history milestones, efforts to educate future generations of disability advocates and more. This exhibit is a fitting compliment to the Expo, which features the latest products and services, informative workshops and adaptive activities to appeal to people of all ages with the full spectrum of disabilities—including physical, learning, developmental and sensory disabilities.

Admission is free and Expo hours will be Friday and Saturday 11 am to 5 pm, and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm.

"We are thrilled to play an intricate part of the ADA Legacy Tour," said David Korse, president and CEO of Abilities Expo. "The Expo provides the community of people with disabilities access to life-enhancing products, education, resources and fun. And, like the ADA Legacy Tour, Abilities Expo is a celebration of what you can do."

The mission of the ADA Legacy Project is to preserve disability history, celebrate its significant events, and educate the public and future generations of advocates.

Complimentary loaner scooters, wheelchair repair and a power chair charging station will also be available during show hours.

The Latest Products and Services
Attendees will experience cutting-edge products and services for people with a wide range of disabilities. They will find mobility products, devices for people with developmental disabilities, medical equipment, home accessories, essential services, low-cost daily living aids, products for people with sensory impairments and much more. The Assistive Technology Showcase will also feature an array of devices for attendees to experience hands-on.

Relevant Workshops
A series of compelling workshops which address pressing disability issues will be offered free-of-charge to all attendees. Sessions will focus on travel, assistive listening devices, the civil rights legacy of the ADA, medical marijuana, pregnancy and SCI, a parent's journey and that is just for starters.

Sports, Dancing, Ride-Along Racking and More!
Abilities Expo does not merely inform, it engages and it entertains. Attendees of all levels of ability can test their skills at martial arts, learn the latest Zumba and line dancing moves, receive professional makeovers and play adaptive sports. They can also experience ride-along racing where "captains" ride a chair, "angels" push from behind and everybody wins. And kids will love the face painting.

Meet the Animals
Animals have become an intrinsic part of the disability community. Some are essential to the healing process, while others help their human partners become more independent. Expo-goers will enjoy assistance dog demos, as well as a crash course on how to buy, train and live with your service dog.

Celebrity Encounters
A notable player in the disability rights movement, Lex Frieden will launch the ADA Legacy Tour with a press conference on July 25. Frieden became interested in working for the rights of people with disabilities after he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him without the use of his lower body and partial use of his arms. After his accident, he went to TIRR Memorial Hermann for rehabilitation where he now directs the Independent Living Research Utilization Program. From 1984 to 1988, Frieden served as executive director of the National Council on Disability.

Meet Karen Kain and get your copy of her new book signed. A Unique Life Fully Lived is the journey of Karen and her medically fragile, yet unbelievably courageous daughter Lorrin, who was vaccine-injured at 6-weeks-old.

Come and introduce yourself to Andy Yohe, the captain of the gold-winning U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, and his teammates Taylor Lipsett, Rico Roman and Jen Lee.

Claudia Salley, star of Discovery Health Channel's Paralyzed and Pregnant with Twins, will share her personal story of life, loss, spinal cord injury, pregnancy and then her big surprise of twins in her workshop Pregnancy and Spinal Cord Injury on July 26.

Hometown favorite Corina Gutierrez will bring the Zumba craze to expo attendees, adapted for all.

For more information, visit www.abilitiesexpo.com/houston.

NDI Report Finds Adults with Disabilities Continue to be Economically Shortchanged Despite ADA's Guarantee

(Washington, D.C. – July 22, 2014) – A new report released today from National Disability Institute (NDI) shows 24 years after the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law and guaranteed all individuals with disabilities the opportunity to achieve “economic self-sufficiency,”people with disabilities are less financially stable than people without disabilities.

Based on data collected from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s 2012 National Financial Capability Study released last year, this groundbreaking report highlights for the first time a nationwide snapshot of the financial capability and financial wellness of adults with disabilities.

National Disability Institute’s report, Financial Capability of Adults with Disabilities – Findings from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation 2012 National Financial Capability Study , analyzed data from 1,363 of the more than 25,000 respondents to the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) self-identifying as “permanently sick, disabled or unable to work.” While the report analyzes one segment of people with disabilities, the results provide an important lens on the financial capability of many Americans with disabilities. According to U.S. Census data, nearly one in three people with disabilities in the United States live in poverty, a figure nearly double the national poverty rate.

The report mirrors the format of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s 2012 National Financial Capability Study and includes insights into how respondents make ends meet, plan ahead, manage financial products as well as their level of financial knowledge and decision making. In nearly every category, the financial capability of people with disabilities lagged behind the financial capability of people without disabilities. Report highlights include:

  • 78 percent of people with disabilities found it difficult to make ends meet, as compared with 56 percent of people without disabilities;
  • 70 percent of people with disabilities responded they could not come up with $2,000 in an emergency, as compared with 37 percent of people without disabilities;
  • 44 percent of people with disabilities had unpaid medical bills, as compared to 25 percent of people without disabilities;
  • 81 percent of people with disabilities did not have an emergency fund to cover three months of expenses, as compared to 54 percent of people without disabilities;
  • Only 18 percent of people with disabilities had determined their retirement savings needs, as compared with 41 percent of people without disabilities;
  • 84 percent of people with disabilities had not planned for their children’s college education, as compared to 62 percent of respondents without disabilities;
  • Only 30 percent of respondents with disabilities paid their credit card in full each month, as compared with 50 percent of respondents without disabilities;
  • 41 percent of people with disabilities used methods of non-bank borrowing, such as a pawn shop or payday loan, as compared with 29 percent of people without disabilities; and
  • 50 percent reported they were “not at all satisfied” with their current financial condition, as compared with 30 percent of people without disabilities.

“While the participants in the study represent only a segment of people with disabilities, their responses tell an all too common story for many people in the disability community,” said Michael Morris, executive director of National Disability Institute and a co-author. “More than 24 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, these results show our nation is falling short of meeting the promise of economic self-sufficiency the ADA guarantees. The status quo is unacceptable. Working together, we must do better.”

NDI, the first national non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to building a better economic future for people with disabilities, also outlined in the report the organization’s recommendations on how to move forward and foster collaboration to improve the financial capability of people with disabilities. Recommendations included designing and testing innovative intervention strategies, establishing a cross-system national task force to build a collaboration strategy, and improving available information about people with disabilities and their financial capability.

National Disability Institute released the report today at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Morris and co-author Katherine McDonald, a professor and researcher at Syracuse University, presented the report’s results. FINRA Investor Education Foundation President Gerri Walsh provided an overview and historical perspective of her organization’s 2012 National Financial Capability Study and the future of the initiative. A panel of federal agency representatives discussed various initiatives they are undertaking to advance the financial capability of people with disabilities. Panelists included Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy; Debra Holland, Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service Wage and Investment (W&I) Division; Gail Hillebrand, Associate Director, Consumer Education & Engagement, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and Bob Williams, Senior Advisor, Social Security Administration.

A digital copy of the report is available for download in the document library under the Resources section of NDI’s website and via this link http://bit.ly/NDI_Report_2014. Video of the National Press Club event will be available on National Disability Institute’s YouTube channel, YouTube.com/RealEconomicImpact.

About National Disability Institute
National Disability Institute (NDI) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to building a better economic future for people with disabilities. The first national organization committed exclusively to championing economic empowerment, financial education, asset development and financial stability for all persons with disabilities, National Disability Institute effects change through public education, policy development, training, technical assistance and innovative initiatives. National Disability Institute and its Real Economic Impact (REI) Network have helped nearly 2 million people with disabilities receive more than $1.8 billion in tax refunds and credits. To learn more, visit www.realeconomicimpact.org Engage with National Disability Institute on Facebook: RealEconImpact or follow NDI on Twitter: @RealEconImpact.

Lisa Karp , National Disability Institute
(202) 695-2180/ lkarp@ndi-inc.org

Dominic Manecke, National Disability Institute
(202) 296-1442/ dmanecke@ndi.inc.org

Updated July 15, 2014

EEOC Issues Updated Enforcement Guidance On Pregnancy Discrimination And Related Issues

Fact Sheet for Small Businesses and Question and Answer Document Also Released

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues, along with a question and answer document about the guidance and a Fact Sheet for Small Businesses. The Enforcement Guidance, Q&A document, and Fact Sheet will be available on the EEOC's website.

This is the first comprehensive update of the Commission's guidance on the subject of discrimination against pregnant workers since the 1983 publication of a Compliance Manual chapter on the subject. This guidance supersedes that document and incorporates significant developments in the law during the past 30 years.

In addition to addressing the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the guidance discusses the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as amended in 2008, to individuals who have pregnancy-related disabilities.

"Pregnancy is not a justification for excluding women from jobs that they are qualified to perform, and it cannot be a basis for denying employment or treating women less favorably than co-workers similar in their ability or inability to work," said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. "Despite much progress, we continue to see a significant number of charges alleging pregnancy discrimination, and our investigations have revealed the persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices. This guidance will aid employers, job seekers, and workers in complying with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, and thus advance EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan priority of addressing the emerging issue of the interaction between these two anti-discrimination statutes."

Much of the analysis in the enforcement guidance is an update of longstanding EEOC policy. The guidance sets out the fundamental PDA requirements that an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions must be treated the same as other persons similar in their ability or inability to work. The guidance also explains how the ADA's definition of "disability" might apply to workers with impairments related to pregnancy.

Among other issues, the guidance discusses:

  • The fact that the PDA covers not only current pregnancy, but discrimination based on past pregnancy and a woman's potential to become pregnant;
  • Lactation as a covered pregnancy-related medical condition;
  • The circumstances under which employers may have to provide light duty for pregnant workers;
  • Issues related to leave for pregnancy and for medical conditions related to pregnancy;
  • The PDA's prohibition against requiring pregnant workers who are able to do their jobs to take leave;
  • The requirement that parental leave (which is distinct from medical leave associated with childbearing or recovering from childbirth) be provided to similarly situated men and women on the same terms;
  • When employers may have to provide reasonable accommodations for workers with pregnancy-related impairments under the ADA and the types of accommodations that may be necessary; and
  • Best practices for employers to avoid unlawful discrimination against pregnant workers.

In February, 2012, the Commission held a public meeting to hear from stakeholders about issues related to pregnancy discrimination and discrimination against individuals with caregiving responsibilities. The Commission Meeting record was held open for 15 days following the meeting, to facilitate public comment. The materials from that meeting, including testimony and transcripts, are available at www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/2-15-12/index.cfm.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.