Regional International Corporation, a commercial truck and trailer dealership with locations in Western New York, has agreed to pay $65,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced yesterday.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, in June 2015, Regional International Corporation fired a truck parts delivery driver shortly after he requested leave for hip replacement surgery to treat hip osteoarthritis. The same supervisor who had recently given the driver a performance rating of "Exceptional" and wrote that he had received "no complaints from customers" nevertheless told the driver that he was being fired due to customer complaints. This supervisor also informed the EEOC during the agency's investigation that disabled people could not work for the company because they would not be able to get the work done, EEOC claimed.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees from disability discrimination, including the failure to provide reasonable workplace accommodations to qualified individuals who have a disability, have a record of disability, or are regarded as disabled. Such reasonable accommodations can include leaves of absence. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York (EEOC v. Regional International Corporation, Civil Action No. 17-cv-06505), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Nevada Restaurant Services, a large Las Vegas-based gaming company that operates slot machines, taverns and casinos in Nevada and Montana, will pay $3.5 million and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
According to the EEOC's suit, since at least 2012, Nevada Restaurant Services violated federal law by maintaining a well-established companywide practice of requiring that employees with disabilities or medical conditions be 100 percent healed before returning to work. This policy does not allow for engagement in an interactive process or providing reasonable accommodations for disabled employees.
The EEOC also charged that Nevada Restaurant Services fired and/or forced employees to quit because they were regarded as disabled, had a record of disability, and/or were associated with someone with a disability.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). The EEOC filed suit in March 2018 (EEOC v. Nevada Restaurant Services, Case No. 2:18-cv-00954-JCM-CWH) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
M&R Consulting, LLC, a Towson, Md,-based home care agency doing business as Home Instead Senior Care, violated federal law when it rescinded a job offer because it regarded an applicant as having tuberculosis, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), charged in a lawsuit.
The EEOC said that M&R Consulting conditionally hired a qualified applicant for a caregiving position in Towson, subject to her passing pre-employment requirements, including a skin test for tuberculosis. The applicant, who had prior caregiving experience, tested positive for tuberculosis on the purified protein derivative skin test. However, that skin test only shows that someone has been exposed to tuberculosis bacteria and not whether the person has latent tuberculosis or has progressed to active tuberculosis disease. Prior to this test, the applicant had never tested positive for tuberculosis and had no symptoms of the disease, EEOC charges.
M&R Consulting's human resources coordinator told the applicant to submit to a chest x-ray for tuberculosis. The applicant emailed M&R Consulting the x-ray, which confirmed that she did not have tuberculosis. According to the suit, M&R Consulting emailed the applicant that, "any positive results are not accepted whether latent or otherwise" and wrongfully rescinded the job offer because it perceived the applicant as disabled.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination because an employer believes someone has a disability, even if she does not have such an impairment. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. M&R Consulting, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-01638-ELH) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
Legal News Line
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced May 30 that St. Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center Inc. will pay $15,000 and furnish additional relief after allegations of disability discrimination.
According to allegations, an employee named Latoya Moore needed lifting restrictions because of a disability, and when St. Vincent learned that those restrictions were needed for an indefinite period of time, the company forced her to take leave at reduced pay. Then, instead of transferring her to another vacant position within the company that she was qualified for, St. Vincent allegedly fired her. Purported conduct of this nature violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which bans employers from discriminating against their employees due to disabilities.
"This lawsuit demonstrates that employers should be aware of their obligation to provide a transfer as a reasonable accommodation for employees who are qualified individuals with disabilities," said EEOC regional attorney Kenneth Bird in a statement.
EEOC's Indianapolis District Office oversees agency operations in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and western Ohio, with field offices in Louisville, Cincinnati, and Detroit.
Public accommodation lawsuits under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have been around for years, but traditionally involve physical barriers such as narrow parking spots or access aisles, lack of elevators, and inaccessible restrooms. Increasingly, these lawsuits are not just confined to brick-and-mortar accommodations, but involve cyberspace. For example, individuals who are visually impaired typically access organization’s websites by using certain software that reads a website’s content. If this software cannot read an organization’s website, however, a visually impaired individual may be unable to fully access its content.
The healthcare industry is not exempt from the recent surge in website accessibility cases under Title III of the ADA. Although the retail, hospitality, and higher education industries have been some to get hit the hardest on this growing trend, the ADA specifically protects hospitals and doctor’s offices, and a number of hospital systems and health insurance organizations have already been involved in these lawsuits.
Part of the difficulty of this issue is the lack of regulatory guidance. Most courts examining the issue have concluded that cyberspace is a place of public accommodation and thus, websites must be accessible to disabled users. There is less agreement among courts, however, on whether all commercial websites must be ADA-compliant or whether only businesses with brick-and-mortar locations must comply. Thus far, most courts require a website have an actual nexus to a brick-and-mortar location to be covered by Title III. That is, some courts have concluded that Title III does not cover “stand-alone” websites that do not also have physical locations. Additionally, even for those organizations that are subject to Title III, there are no government-issued guidelines defining what makes an organization’s website accessible. Unlike the physical access barrier regulations that provide inch-by-inch guidance, such standards are not yet available for cyberspace.
The good news is that, despite the lack of regulation, there are steps organizations can take toward ensuring compliance. Typically, websites that comply with “WCAG 2.0 Guidelines” are considered accessible to the visually impaired. Organizations can utilize these standards to evaluate the accessibility of their website for visually impaired individuals. While there are other ways to defend against a Title III claim, ongoing assessment of the accessibility of the website along with programs to improve accessibility are strong indicia of an organization’s intent to comply with Title III.
Although healthcare organizations already are heavily regulated, this is an area where additional guidelines could be helpful in understanding the steps necessary to make their websites compliant with Title III of the ADA. The Trump Administration has indicated it may even issue additional regulations this year. Until then, however, the healthcare industry, along with millions of other U.S. businesses, must strive for compliance without the benefit of clear directions to do so.
A 24-year old lawsuit over conditions at the Montana State Prison could finally be coming to a close Friday.
The ACLU of Montana and the state Department of Corrections are asking a judge to approve a settlement to address conditions at the prison for inmates with disabilities at a hearing in Missoula.
Alex Rate is the legal director for ACLU Montana.
"It’s an unfortunate reality that prisoners who are disabled face all sorts of barriers to accessing programs and accessing physical spaces," Rate said. "And that’s been the situation for many decades - not just at Montana State Prison, but across the country."
Rate says participation in prison programs like vocational training can be a key factor in whether or not prisoners qualify for parole when they are eligible.
As part of the settlement the state DOC is agreeing to improve accessibility with wheelchair ramps, grab bars and other accommodations.
The settlement also protects inmates from being disciplined for behavior that is due to a mental illness or physical disability.
The lawsuit dates back to a class action suit filed in 1991 after a prison riot where five inmates were killed.
ADA compliance is the final issue to be addressed in the case.
An Arizona police officer pinned a 14-year-old to the ground, believing the boy’s ‘stimming’ calming method was something sinister. And his department says he did nothing wrong.