for Technical Assistance
Updated December 3, 2014
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Produced by the Pacific ADA Center of the ADA National Network in conjunction with FEMA - ODIC
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.”
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.
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
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
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
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
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:
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
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 email@example.com.
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
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
" 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
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.
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.
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.
(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:
“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/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Dominic Manecke, National Disability Institute
(202) 296-1442/ email@example.com
Updated July 15, 2014
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:
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.
Updated April 11, 2014
United Spinal Association
Lex Frieden, a United Spinal board member who played an integral role in the development, passage and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will participate in a social justice panel discussion at 2:05pm central, Thurs., Apr. 10 at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas as part of the Civil Rights Summit, Apr. 8-10.
Frieden will talk about the linkage of the ADA with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, why disability rights are civil rights and how the discrimination faced by people with disabilities is similar to that faced by people of color, women and LGBT individuals. He will emphasize how important community integration is to the over 50 million people with disabilities living in the US today.
The panel discussion will immediately follow the keynote speech by President Barack Obama. Other panel participants include former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin; humanitarian Maria Shriver; athlete and philanthropist David Robinson; and businessman Steve Stoute on the panel.
This panel, like the rest of the Summit, will be live streamed at http://www.civilrightssummit.org.
Under immense national pressure from disability rights advocates to include disability rights as part of the Civil Rights Summit celebrating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Library and main organizer of the Summit personally reached out to Frieden and invited him to participate on the social justice panel as a civil and disability rights activist.
Frieden has been involved in the disability community for 45 years. He is one of America's pre-eminent disability activists and leaders of the independent living movement. He is Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Rehabilitation at the University of Texas at Houston, and is past Chairman of the National Council on Disability (NCD), a presidentially-appointed body. He was the 1998 winner of the Henry B. Betts Award for outstanding achievement in disability rights. He is also director of the independent living research utilization program (ILRU) at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas.
Disability rights and ADA supporters will also be having a press conference on Tuesday, April 8th at 11am central in Austin at Red River and Dean Keeton celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
For more information, contact Bob Kafka at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-431-4085.
Updated March 20, 2014
Man Denied Accommodation for Diabetes and Heart Conditions and Then Fired, Federal Agency Charges
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (March 13, 2014) - The operators of a residential nursing home in Albuquerque violated federal law by denying accommodation to and terminating an employee because of his disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed March 11.
According to the EEOC's suit, Doug Johnson, an employee of Paloma Blanca Health and Rehabilitation, LLC, Alpha Healthcare Properties, LLC, and LaVie Care Centers LLC, d/b/a Consulate Health Care, has diabetes and heart conditions. Johnson requested to work eight-hour days instead of longer ones as a reasonable accommodation. Instead, the EEOC said, the company fired Johnson -- while he was on approved leave and recovering from a heart attack -- because of his disabilities and/or because he requested accommodation for them.
Such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on disability, including the need for reasonable accommodation. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico (EEOC v. Paloma Blanca Health and Rehabilitation, LLC, Alpha Healthcare Properties, LLC, and La Vie Care Centers LLC, d/b/a Consulate Health Care, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-00235-GBW-KBM) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.
"The law is clear: Employers have a legal obligation to explore reasonable accommodations for disabilities -- and limiting Mr. Johnson to eight-hour days was certainly in that category, " said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. "Companies cannot refuse to provide reasonable accommodations to their employees unless there is an undue hardship to the company."
The lawsuit asks the court to order these operating companies to provide Johnson with appropriate relief, including back wages, prejudgment interest, compensatory and punitive damages, and to grant a permanent injunction enjoining the companies from engaging in any further discriminatory practice because of disabilities. The EEOC also asks the court to order the companies to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent disability discrimination in the workplace.
EEOC Albuquerque Area Director Derick Newton said, "Employers have an important responsibility to honor approved leave requests and refrain from discriminating based on disability while an employee is recuperating. One would expect that health and rehabilitation companies at least would understand that. We found, after our investigation, that terminating Mr. Johnson while he was out on approved leave and obtaining medical treatment violated the ADA."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.
Updated March 10, 2014
The U.S. Access Board is in the process of jointly updating its Section 508 Standards for Electronic and Information Technology and its Telecommunications Act (Section 255) Accessibility Guidelines. On February 23, the Board submitted a proposed rule to update these standards and guidelines to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. OMB has 90 days to review the rule under Executive Order 12866. Once cleared by OMB, the proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register and will be available for public comment for a specified period of time.
Further information on this rulemaking is available on the Board's website.
Updated March 4, 2014
A new informational video from the State Bar of Texas explains Texas House Bill 489, “Bootz’s Law,” relating to the rights and responsibilities of people with disabilities, including the use of service animals.
February 10, 2014
The ADA National Network launched its new, user-friendly national website this week at adata.org. The NIDRR-funded ADA National Network provides information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), tailored to meet the needs of business, government and individuals at local, regional and national levels. The new website allows visitors to explore resources about the ADA by audience and topic, to learn about the services offered by the ADA National Network, and to locate their regional ADA Center.
Visitors to the website can read publications developed by the ADA National Network as well as by other ADA-focused organizations, browse an extensive FAQ (frequently asked questions) database, search for information through a focused ADA Portal, read current ADA news, and locate training and awareness events about the ADA. The website is designed to meet and exceed section 508 standards. Visitors are encouraged on every page to provide feedback on ways to improve the website.
The ADA National Network consists of 10 regional centers and an ADA Knowledge Translation Center. The regional centers are distributed throughout the United States to provide local assistance and foster implementation of the ADA. Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the ADA National Network provides information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), tailored to meet the needs of business, government and individuals at local, regional and national levels. The Network is not an enforcement or regulatory agency, but a helpful resource supporting the ADA's mission to "make it possible for everyone with a disability to live a life of freedom and equality."
The 10 regional centers along with the ADA Knowledge Translation Center, work together to develop projects and events of national significance. Each regional center also focuses on the specific needs of the residents who reside within its service area. The regional nature of the ADA National Network is critical to ensuring the network can adequately support the diverse population of ADA Stakeholders throughout the country.
To learn more about the ADA law and implementation, you can search for comprehensive ADA information, services, products, training and guidelines on the National Network website (http://adata.org/), or visit your Regional ADA National Network Center Website (http://adata.org/national-network) for information about local events and support. Journalists should visit our Media Kit (http://adata.org/media-kit).
Updated February 3, 2014
The Department of Justice (Department) is issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations in order to incorporate the statutory changes to the ADA set forth in the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA Amendments Act or the Act), which took effect on January 1, 2009. Congress enacted the ADA Amendments Act in order to revise the ADA definition of “disability” and to ensure that the definition is broadly construed and applied without extensive analysis. In this NPRM, the Department is proposing to add new sections to its title II and title III ADA regulations at 28 CFR parts 35 and 36, respectively, to provide detailed definitions of “disability” and to make consistent changes in other sections of the regulations. The ADA Amendments Act authorizes the Attorney General to issue regulations consistent with the Act that implement the definitions of “disability” in sections 3 and 4 of the Act, including the rules of construction set forth in section 3. The Department invites written comments from members of the public on this proposed rule.