ADA in the News: April 14, 2017

Justice Department settles with public school district to resolve HIV-related discrimination findings

Westside Gazette

Justice Department settles with public school district to resolve HIV-related discrimination findings

Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division

The Justice Department recently announced that it has reached an agreement with the Pea Ridge School District (PRSD) of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, to remedy alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination by public entities, including school districts, against individuals who have disabilities; individuals regarded as having disabilities; and individuals associated with people with disabilities.

Based on its investigation, the Department previously issued a Letter of Findings outlining how the District excluded three students after reviewing a document referencing the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status of the students’ family member. The District initially concluded that the students were not to be allowed back into the school district until they underwent HIV testing and the results were returned to the District. Following the students’ exclusion from school and extracurricular activities for multiple days, the District changed its position, readmitting the students prior to its receipt of their HIV test results.

The Settlement Agreement requires the District to adopt and implement a written non-discrimination policy that makes clear that PRSD does not discriminate on the basis of disability and that those individuals who are “regarded as disabled” or are associated with a person with a disability are covered by the ADA’s protections. PRSD has also agreed to revise its “Communicable Diseases and Parasites” policy to state that HIV is not considered to be a condition requiring a student’s exclusion from school under that policy; to provide ADA training to PRSD instructors and administrators; to report on its compliance with the agreement; and to pay $15,000 in compensatory damages.

“No child should be kept from attending school based on unfounded fears about HIV,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We commend the Pea Ridge School District for its commitment, reflected in this agreement, to ensure the ADA’s nondiscrimination promise for all students.”

Long Beach Settles Class Action Suit For ADA Improvements

Gazette Newspapers

Long Beach will spend more than $125 million over the next three decades to make sidewalks and crosswalks accessible to people with disabilities.

Long Beach settles ADA suit, will pay millions to repair sidewalks

Long Beach Press Telegram

Long Beach will be required to spend roughly $200 million over three decades to bring its curbs and sidewalks into compliance with Americans With Disability Act mandates, attorneys announced this week.

The announcement follows a U.S. Central District Court judge’s Monday approval of a settlement between Long Beach’s city government and disability-rights attorneys representing five plaintiffs who alleged in a 2014 lawsuit that a lack of curb ramps and other infrastructure deficiencies amounted to discrimination against people who need wheelchairs or other assistance to get around town.

North Adams Reaching ADA Compliance Under DOJ Agreement

iBerkshires.com

The city is no longer required to submit annual reports to the U.S. Department of Justice on its efforts to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Since reaching an agreement with the DOJ, North Adams has spent $1,259,598.95 toward projects that bring it into compliance with the federal law and is now considered to have completed 85 percent of the outlined projects. 

Disabled man alleges Pembroke Pines gas station does not have compliant restroom

Florida Record

A disabled person is suing MNV Energy North Perry LLC d/b/a Chevron Gas Station, a property owner, citing alleged disability discrimination.

News 5 Investigates: Attorney files motion to dismiss dozens of controversial "ADA" lawsuits

KOAA.com Colorado Springs and Pueblo News

In March, News 5 Investigates aired multiple reports on a wave of controversial ADA lawsuits flooding Colorado. 

Melissa Umphenour and Santiago Abreu filed more than 130 lawsuits combined against local businesses. 

These "serial" ADA suers often find minor violations such as a missing coat hook in a restroom stall--then demand thousands of dollars to drop the case and it's perfectly legal!

A third person has jumped on board, suing 43 businesses in Colorado Springs since February 2017. 

Most of the lawsuits filed by Terrell Frederick are against restaurants along a 1.5 mile stretch of Powers between Constitution and Stetson Hills. 

In all of his cases, Frederick claims businesses discriminated against him and his disabled daughter for things like a toilet paper dispenser being a few inches too low or high. 

However, News 5 Investigates is punching holes in his story that attorneys say could very well result in all of these lawsuits being tossed out. 

Frederick told a judge he was too poor to pay filing fees associated with suing 43 businesses with alleged ADA violations. 

Is that kiosk ADA compliant? Who knows?

ATM Marketplace

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discriminating against people with disabilities and requires businesses to ensure such individuals have equal access to goods, services and information.

When ADA regulators released new rules in 2010, however, the agency did not give extensive specifications for making equipment accessible to the disabled in most use cases. As a result, manufacturers of self-serve devices such as kiosks have not had clear guidelines for meeting ADA requirements.

This lack of clarity has led to more than a few instances in which people with disabilities have encountered problems trying to use self-serve kiosks. Several have filed lawsuits, claiming that the devices did not meet ADA requirements.

Kiosk replacement leads to complaints from local retailers

El Dorado News-Times

The replacement of a downtown kiosk recently led to some complaints, and though the structure has since been moved, the El Dorado Historic District Commission addressed the issue Thursday as a point of reference for the future.

Last week, Mayor Frank Hash sent an email to downtown developers and property owners Richard and Vertis Mason, informing them that his office has received complaints about the placement of a kiosk on East Main between Jefferson and Hill.

Man alleges Five Below website has barriers that prevent full access to it

Florida Record

A legally blind man alleges he was unable fully use a retail store chain's website because of barriers.

Andres Gomez filed a complaint on March 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Five Below Inc., doing business as www.fivebelow.com, alleging violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Latest ADA lawsuit names councilwoman's business

The Willits News

There is no indication of when, or if a string of lawsuits from a resident who claims she is being discriminated against under the American with Disabilities Act will stop, but the latest legal challenge now involves a business operated by a member of the Willits City Council and her husband.

In addition to two other Willits small businesses which have been hit with recent lawsuits, the latest action, filed in a Northern California District Court last week, names the Hanson Shopping Center and owner Victor Hanson, as well as Council member Saprina Rodriguez and her husband Martin, doing business as Ace Copy and Shipping Center.

According to the Unruh Civil Rights complaint, for approximately 27 years, the plaintiff has been a patron at the Hanson Shopping Center as an invitee and guest. This includes the Safeway store and other public accommodations that comprise the center.

ADA, assistive technology and the leading example of ATMs

ATM Marketplace

While the Americans with Disabilities Act does not specify how access should be provided to the disabled in most situations, proactive companies have for some time been turning to already-available customer-facing "assistive technologies" that meet the need.

In light of recent court settlements on behalf of disabled individuals their use might be evolving from voluntary to mandatory.

College Accommodations: The Inside Scoop

ADDitude

As a higher education professional working in disability services, I’ve counseled many students with disabilities and their families. I’ve learned that the earlier our students know the process of receiving accommodations in college, the smoother their overall transition to college. Know that you and are your student are not alone. Here‘s what your student can expect in college, and how it may be different than what he or she has experienced in high school.

'Is it Gabe friendly?' A push to make the city's restaurants more accessible

Insider Louisville

Before heading to a new restaurant or bar, 26-year-old Moriah Dietrich said she and her friends scout out the location on Google Streetview: Are there steps? Is there accessible parking?

Friendlier Skies: Airlines Are Making Travel Easier for People with Autism

NBCNews.com

The stresses of air travel can unnerve even the most laid-back adventurer. But for families who have children with autism and/or other intellectual and developmental disabilities, the trip to and through the airport can be just too difficult to even consider.

Arizona House Advances ADA Cure Period Bill

KJZZ

The Arizona House voted Thursday to make it more difficult for people with disabilities to sue businesses for violations stemming from the Americans with Disability Act.

The bill is intended to stop lawyers from suing businesses over ADA violations, then settling for cash payments, regardless if the violation is fixed. The bill was supposed to be a compromise between the business and disability communities.

Judge certifies Shasta County Jail lawsuit as 'class action'

KRCRTV.COM

A lawsuit against the Shasta County Jail has now reached class action status. That means more people could join the lawsuit which alleges civil rights abuses against people with disabilities.

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