ADA in the News: May 7, 2018

Settlement Agreement: Coconino County, Arizona

Voluntary Compliance Agreement: Hudson Public Schools District

Working rotating shifts was essential job function; refusal to do so doomed ADA claim
In "a lesson straight out of the school of hard knocks," the First Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment against the ADA claims of a Burger King assistant manager who suffered from PTSD and depression after being attacked at gunpoint and who resigned when his employer refused his request for a permanent fixed work schedule instead of one comprised of rotating shifts. Being able to work rotating shifts was an essential function, said the court, and the fact that the employer temporarily granted him the accommodation of a fixed schedule did not mean it conceded that rotating shifts was a nonessential function. "No matter how sympathetic the plaintiff or how harrowing his plights, the law is the law and sometimes it's just not on his side." ( Sepulveda-Vargas v Caribbean Restaurants, LLC, 1stCir, April 30, 2018, Thompson, O.)

Ticket to Ride: Must Employers Reasonably Accommodate?

The National Law Review

Suppose you have an employee who claims he is too large for a regular airline seat, so when you send him to travel on company business, he wants first-class tickets to accommodate his larger size. Can you tell the employee that he must fly on company business in standard seating?

It depends on whether the employee is merely overweight or obese. Even if the employee is obese, however, courts are split on whether mere obesity not caused by a physiological condition (such as a thyroid disorder) is a disability that must be accommodated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

The online world at risk of ADA lawsuits

Pittsburgh Business Times

Lawsuits and enforcement actions over websites’ accessibility to disabled people have swamped businesses, as well as colleges and universities over the past several years. 

“We’ve seen such a spike in the last few years in threatened litigation and enforcement actions,” says Susan Deniker, an attorney with the law firm Steptoe & Johnson PLLC who focuses on labor and employment law, litigation, and education law. “We’ve seen this hit many different industries. Any business that has a public website faces these issues.”

According to CBS News, hundreds of companies, including such major corporations as Nike and Burger King, face class-action lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act over the accessibility of their websites. Deniker says that colleges and universities have also become targets as the internet has become more important to their missions.

Compliance Officer with Disability Sues Morgan Stanley


A risk officer at Morgan Stanley’s Aventura, Fla., complex has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the firm, alleging that she was denied a bonus and isolated by supervisors after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

In a complaint filed in March and transferred on Friday to a federal court in the Southern District of Florida, Stephanie Quadros said the firm violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to accommodate her health issues and by undermining her reputation after her August 2015 diagnosis.

Defining 'service animal', according to the ADA

Lariat Saddleback College

Service dogs are not an unusual sight at Saddleback college; they are also not just any ordinary dog. These service dogs are working animals that have had countless hours of socialization and intense behavioral and obedience training. These working animals  are schooled to be mentally and physically ready to assist and help their human partners in multiple situations.

However, there has been a spike in fake service dogs, pets who have had a service vest stuck on them and who have had none of the training needed to be an active service animal, that could potentially jeopardize real service dogs due to the flaws in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or ADA that have created unintentional loopholes to get around the regulations, which have been poorly defined and managed by the ADA itself, thereby leaving things ripe for loopholes. To fully understand what qualifies as a working service animal, one must look at the official definition stated by the ADA that is defined as follows:

“A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.”

Trump hotel in Chicago sued for alleged ADA violations

Chicago Tribune

A Florida man is suing Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago for multiple alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, from improper grab bars in the restrooms to counters that were too tall at the hotel bar.

Howard Cohan claims in the lawsuit filed Friday in Chicago federal court that he has neurological problems from spinal stenosis, and said it would be a “futile gesture” to return to the property as long as the violations exist. He last visited the hotel in August, according to the lawsuit.

Cohan, who lives in Palm Beach County, refers to himself in the lawsuit as a “tester” for discovering “discrimination against the disabled” in public accommodations. He has filed numerous lawsuits against businesses in Chicago and across the country, many of which have been settled.

Because the terms of settlement are generally not disclosed, it is unclear if the businesses made any changes as a result of the lawsuits.

Controversial Proposed Changes to the ADA Education and Reform Act

Legal Talk Network

Larry Cohen and Peter Early join Robyn Powell, attorney, writer, and scholar whose work focuses on disability law and policy, to discuss the controversial change to the ADA and the potential impact this could have for disabled people.

Rocky Mountain ADA Center Supporting People With Disabilities

CBS Denver

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law 28 years ago. There are 10 centers across the country charged with educating the public, employers, and people with disabilities about the Act.

“We serve everyone. The Americans with disabilities acts touches everyone. We answer questions from businesses, from school districts, governments, and people with disabilities or their families and loved ones,” said Dana Baron, Director of the Rocky Mountain ADA.

The Rocky Mountain ADA Center has offices in Colorado Springs and serves Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Dana Barton is the new director. The Center offers technical assistance, training, and research services for free.

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