ADA in the News: July 10, 2017

ADA helps disabled workers

Youngstown Vindicator

In the 25 years since it took effect, the employment portion of the Americans with Disabilities Act has promoted and facilitated the hiring of disabled people, local experts say.

Title I of the ADA, the section governing employment, took effect July 26, 1992. The ADA itself was signed into law July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush.

The act is a civil-rights law that bars discrimination based on physical or mental disabilities and requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers.

Others parts of the ADA require accessibility of public entities, public transportation, public accommodations and commercial facilities to disabled people.

“I think it’s better than it was,” Michael McBride, the recently retired Youngstown Area Goodwill Industries executive director, about accommodation of disabled workers by private-sector employers under the ADA.

Florida agrees to make prisons more accessible for inmates with disabilities

Bradenton Herald

For years, inmates with disabilities in Florida have doubly struggled to navigate its prison system, lawyers say.

Inmates with hearing problems have said they were denied interpreters or hearing aids that would help them understand orders or announcements in their facilities. Inmates who are blind alleged that their canes were not replaced when broken, making it impossible to navigate the halls around them. Some with mobility problems reported that they were not allowed to have wheelchairs inside their cells or that their prosthetic limbs were confiscated, meaning they had to drag themselves around in their cells or wait in long lines for the few wheelchair-accessible showers or tables in their prisons.

The state has agreed to a major settlement with a statewide disability advocacy group to address those complaints, setting a timeline to bring its facilities into compliance with federal laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Eighth Amendment.

Local Hospital Settles Following Allegations of Failed Communication Services

KRGV

The Doctors Hospital at Renaissance is providing new training for staff to help the hearing impaired.

The decision comes after allegations that DHR violated the American Disabilities Act.

According to the Department of Justice, an investigation began after a local deaf couple filed a lawsuit against DHR in 2011. The parents claimed the hospital failed to provide adequate sign language services during their daughter’s cancer treatment.

How Can Multistate Employers Develop Solid Drug-Testing Policies?

SHRM

Multistate employers with drug-testing policies must ensure that they comply with the various state laws that apply to such practices. This can be complicated for many reasons. For instance, states may have different definitions of terms like "reasonable suspicion," as well as different steps that employers must follow after a worker tests positive for illicit drug use.

Employers should first think about what types of testing they want to do and why, said Kathryn Russo, an attorney with Jackson Lewis in Long Island, N.Y. While pre-employment testing is generally allowed in every state, other types—like random drug testing—are more regulated.

Michael Clarkson, an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Boston, said multistate employers should consult an attorney before rolling out a policy. "If you're trying to do it yourself, you need to be an expert in every applicable location," he said. For example, he noted, Minnesota employers need to know that they can't fire an employee for the first positive drug-screen result. Rather, employees must be given the opportunity to rehabilitate. And California employers need to know that random drug tests are heavily restricted in the state.

Many states also have a number of technical requirements—like written notice and confirmatory retest procedures—that can be burdensome. That's another reason employers need to review their policies with counsel, Russo noted.

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