ADA in the News November 19, 2019

Adecco USA to Pay $49,500 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, in April 2016, an applicant with learning and other mental disabilities visited Adecco's office in Corry, Pa., to apply for a food packaging and distri­bution position. The EEOC charged that an Adecco official refused to place the applicant with disabilities in the position he requested. The official told him he was "too slow" for the job after he had difficulty reading and comprehending a pre-employment test. The Adecco official placed other appli­cants in the food packag­ing and distribution position and subsequently offered the applicant a job cleaning cars, according to the lawsuit.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Adecco USA, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00250-SPB) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Erie Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to paying $49,500 to the worker, the agreed-upon consent decree approved by the federal court enjoins future violations of the ADA and requires that Adecco implement various measures to prevent workplace disability discrimination. Those measures include modifications to its existing policy prohibiting disability discrimination and extensive ADA training for certain person­nel. The company must post a notice to employees relating to the settlement and furnish reports to the EEOC semi-annually concerning allegations of disability discrimination regarding the Corry location.

Goodwill Industries to Pay $65,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey, Inc., which provides job opportunities to people with disabilities, will pay $65,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the employee, who worked in a janitorial program that primarily employed individuals with disabilities, encountered problems on the job as a result of his cognitive disability and needed additional training or job coaching to properly understand the rules he was required to follow. Instead, he was given written warnings, which the employee was unable to read or understand, and received no additional training or coaching. As a result, the employee continued to experience the same difficulties and was ultimately fired, the agency charged.

This alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the ADA, when an employer is aware that an employee with a disability needs an accommoda­tion in order to perform the essential functions of his job, it must provide one unless doing so would be an undue hardship. Accommodations may in­clude job coaching, additional training, modifications to the employer's operating procedures, or other measures that would allow the employee to do his job successfully. Further, the employer is required to engage in an interactive process with the employee to determine if there is a way to accommodate the employee's disability.

The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (EEOC v. Goodwill Industries of Greater New York & Northern New Jersey, Civil Action No. 19-cv-1674), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under the consent decree settling the case, Goodwill will pay the former employee $65,000 in back pay and damages. The organization will also institute new procedures in the janitorial program where the employee worked to ensure that other employees with disabilities receive the support that they need to continue their employment. Additionally, Goodwill will provide ADA training to all their supervisors and will report on any denied requests for reasonable accommodation or complaints of disability discrimination to the EEOC.

How HR Can Support Employees with Serious Illnesses

When someone is diagnosed with a serious health condition, it impacts several important areas of their life, including work. That, in turn, can prompt them to ask themselves questions such as, “How do I balance work and treatment?” “What can I expect from my employer?” “What are my legal rights?” “What do other people do in this situation?” Diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders and cancer are just a few examples of serious illnesses that can beset people in the workplace and drive them to find ways to balance their job and health demands. As a Human Resources professional, you are on the front lines of helping these employees find a workable solution if they decide they want to stay on the job.

A common misconception is that people who have a serious illness do not want to work. The results of a 2018 online survey commissioned by Cancer and Careers and administered by Harris Poll show otherwise. The research was conducted to better understand the attitudes and behaviors of U.S. cancer patients and survivors who were employed when diagnosed, or unemployed but looking for work following their diagnosis. Sixty-four percent of survey respondents said working through treatment helps or had helped them cope.  The survey also found that one-third of respondents were hesitant to reach out to their HR team. To ensure employees feel comfortable engaging with HR, it is essential that companies recognize the unique needs their employees have following a diagnosis and that they create mechanisms to assist them. Navigating workplace challenges becomes easier when employees are equipped with the right knowledge, tools and support.

6 Must-Haves of an ADA Compliant Website

When we used to talk about accessibility, we only thought about physical buildings. But times have changed. Providing online services, such as account access and payment processing, is now a commonplace practice that bridges the gap between businesses and consumers. However, businesses that don’t adhere to the website accessibility guidelines mentioned in the American Disability Act of 1990 are at risk of legal charges of up to $150,000. 

Making your website accessible to all will not only protect your business against possible legal consequences, but it can also improve your online reputation.

Here are the six most important components of an ADA-compliant website:

1. Inclusive Design

Accessibility is about making your website available to everyone. To achieve this, you should pay attention to inclusive design. 

Inclusive design means designing for diversity. Remember that your site visitors are varied. Some may be suffering from permanent disabilities, including blindness, hearing impairment, or some chronic disease that restricts their mobility. Meanwhile, other people can be temporarily impaired. For example, a person who just went through a major surgical operation may not be able to move his hands properly until recovered. When designing a website, keep in mind the different kinds of people who will be accessing it so that it can be made accessible to those in unique situations.

2. Video and Audio Files

Video and audio files are common on websites. Through these media, you can easily convey your message and promote your brand. Unfortunately, not everyone can access them with ease. People with visual impairment, for example, will not be able to view videos, photos, or other graphical components of your site. Meanwhile, deaf people might feel discouraged to use your site if you have a lot of audio content. 

The solution is to provide your audience with an alternative method to access these files if they cannot hear the audio or see videos. You can make the experience better for these people by adding alternate tags to your images, subtitles on your videos, and transcripts for your audio files. 

3. Content

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 list several recommendations to make your site content user-friendly.

The first is to provide text alternatives to non-text content. This way, users can change the content into a format that suits their needs, such as speech, braille, symbols, and even simple language. 

Second, provide alternatives for time-based media. This means publishing pre-recorded media (video and audio files) and using captions.

The third is to enable users to view their content in different forms or layouts without losing information or structure. Many disabled people use mobile devices to access the web. Thus, you have to make sure that your site is mobile-friendly.

Lastly, you should make it easy for users to view or hear your content by separating the foreground from the background. This can be done by making highly contrasting color combinations and adding a ‘pause’ button or disabling auto-play functions on videos.

4. Font

There are hundreds of font styles available today. In terms of accessibility, there are several guidelines to keep in mind when choosing fonts for your website. One is to choose a common font and limit the number of font styles for your website. Among the widely used fonts for accessibility are sans-serifs like Arial, Calibri, and Century Gothic, serif fonts like Times New Roman and Georgia, and slab serifs like Rockwell and Avro. 

As to the size, use at least 20px for your content. Enable resizing by defining font sizes by relative value. 

Another accessibility must-have is ensuring that your text can be zoomed in to 200% without assistive technology or loss of website functionality. 

5. Accessibility Guide

Once you’ve made the major components of your site accessible, create a separate page outlining how people with disabilities can use or navigate your site with ease. Your accessibility guide should include links or tools that can help them access the information they need. Include some techniques such as text-to-speech option, voice recognition, browser settings, and many more.

6. Layout

An accessible layout is important for accessible websites. Your site should be designed in such a way that people with disabilities can easily and confidently locate and identify the information they need on their own. This includes adding navigation menus, links, clear headings for content, orientation cues, and sections. You should also add labels and short instructions on fields.

Additionally, provide more than one method of website navigation such as a site search or a site map.


Creating an ADA-compliant website isn’t too difficult. If you pay attention to the six elements mentioned in this article, your website will be well on its way to being accessible to everyone, especially to people with disabilities.

Ky. man, transgender wife sue Amazon for workplace bias

A Kentucky man and his transgender wife sued Amazon on Wednesday, alleging that they endured sustained discrimination and harassment during a year as co-workers at the mammoth online retailer’s warehouse in northern Kentucky.

A lawyer working with the couple said the case is notable in part because Amazon, one of the nation’s largest corporations, has a record of strongly supporting gay and transgender rights.

The lawsuit , filed in U.S. District Court in Covington, Kentucky, alleges that Dane Lane and Allegra Schawe-Lane were targeted with threats, slurs and sexual harassment by numerous colleagues at their shipping facility. Their complaints to superiors led to retaliation in some cases, rather than any effective steps to halt the abuse, the couple contends.

Working in freezer was essential function of warehouse worker's job, which he couldn't perform due to frostbite
A lift truck operator who was permanently restricted from working more than 30 minutes per workday in a warehouse freezer due to a frostbite injury was not a "qualified individual" under the ADA since an essential function of his job as an "order selector" was substantial exposure to the freezer, which he failed to establish that he could perform with a reasonable accommodation. Though he argued that he should have been reassigned instead of being terminated, he failed to show that there were any vacant non-freezer positions available for which he was qualified, a federal district court in Indiana ruled in dismissing his ADA claim of disability bias on summary judgment. (Pryor v Americold Logistics, LLC, SDInd, November 5, 2019, Sweeney II, J.)

Officer's claim she was denied light duty after announcing her pregnancy survives based on comments by mayor, police chief
A female police officer who was denied a light duty assignment after she informed her employer that she was pregnant survived the employer's motion for summary judgment against her pregnancy discrimination claim, a federal district court in Louisiana determined. The police chief admitted that he did not even consider accommodating the officer as they had previously done for injured male officers. The court found particularly troubling the alleged statement made to the officer by the former mayor that, if she wanted to keep her job, she should not stay pregnant. The court found that this odious comment to her constituted direct evidence of discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). (Townsend v Town of Brusly, MDLa, November 8, 2019, Dick, S.)

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