Lawsuits accuse wineries like Long Island’s Wölffer Estate of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act
Legal News Line
A family of nursing and health care facilities in upstate New York has agreed to pay $465,000 to settle claims by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of discriminating against pregnant employees and those with disabilities.
According to the EEOC, Absolut Facilities Management LLC, doing business as Absolut Care, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The EEOC alleges the company failed to accommodate disabled workers, refused to allow disabled to return to work with medical restrictions and subjected employees to impermissible disability-related questions and medical exams. The EEOC also alleges Absolut Care terminated employees because they were pregnant and did not provide pregnancy-related medical restrictions.
"Federal law makes it crystal clear that employers have a duty to accommodate employees with disabilities," said EEOC New York District Office director Kevin Berry. "It is impermissible and unlawful to fire an employee who exhausts her leave under the Family Medical Leave Act -- or other medical leave -- without considering additional leave or a job modification that would enable her to return to work."
The settlement also includes Absolut Care's revision of its leave of absence, discipline and attendance policies as well as training of the company's HR personnel and directors regarding Title VII obligations.
Three blind Maryland residents and the National Federation of the Blind are suing Walmart, alleging that the company violates the Americans with Disabilities Act because its self-checkout kiosks are not fully accessible to blind customers.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, also claims that an employee at the Walmart in Owings Mills allegedly attempted to take money from one of the plaintiffs while she was checking out at the store.
Laws meant to prohibit discrimination against the disabled fall short when it comes to visiting the doctor's office, leaving patients with disabilities to navigate a tricky obstacle course that not only leaves them feeling awkward but also jeopardizes their care.
It's not uncommon to see shoppers and diners with service dogs in stores and restaurants, but there are questions from those in the food industry about whether some animals are being misrepresented and if it’s even regulated.
Sometimes people who have been diagnosed with a mental condition will opt to have an emotional support animal, also referred to as a comfort animal. Those animals provide support to a person with disability through affection, companionship or by being a distraction from daily life issues. Comfort animals can play an important role in their daily lives. However, unlike trained service animals, they aren’t granted any rights to public spaces.
“There is a difference in service dogs and comfort dogs,” said Dennise Burbank, of Yuba City, who has been raising service dogs since 2012. “Service dogs are trained for specified tasks, and are covered under the ADA (American and Disabilities Act). They are allowed to go anywhere their person is allowed to go – stores, restaurants, hospitals, etc.”
Emotional support animals, on the other hand, don’t share that right.
“Emotional support animals, sometimes called comfort animals, if prescribed to an individual as part of their treatment plan for a mental health disability have civil rights protections in most residential housing situations, and any domestic air travel,” said Kevin Campell, CEO of American and Disability Rights, Inc. “Outside of these two specific locations, an emotional support animal has no additional civil rights granted.”
While emotional support animals are typically dogs and cats, they are not limited to those species and do not require training. At the national level, emotional support animals are only protected under the Fair Housing Act, Rehab Act and Air Carrier Acts, which means they can legally be banned from entry at restaurants, theaters, grocery stores, etc. at the discretion of any place or business. For more information, visit americandisabilityrights.org.