ADA in the News February 26, 2021

U.S. Attorney's Office Settles Service Animal Dispute with Haddam Restaurant

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has reached a settlement agreement with the Brookside Bar and Grill in Haddam to resolve allegations that the restaurant was not operating in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”).

The settlement agreement resolves an ADA complaint filed by an individual with disabilities who relies on a service animal and who was a patron of the restaurant. The complainant alleged that the restaurant asked her to show identification for the service animal and, on one occasion, asked her to leave the restaurant because of her service animal.

Under federal law, private entities that own or operate places of “public accommodation,” including restaurants, are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of disability. The ADA requires that a public accommodation, such as a restaurant, modify its policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.

Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. The ADA requires restaurants and other places of public accommodation to permit individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of the place of public accommodation where members of the public, customers, patrons or invitees are allowed to go.

The settlement agreement requires the Brookside Bar and Grill to permit service animals in all areas of the restaurant that members of the public and other patrons are permitted. Additionally, the restaurant will post signage indicating “Service Animals Welcome,” will implement a “Service Animal Policy,” and will train its managers and employees regarding the policy. 

U.S. Attorney Durham noted that the owners and operators of the Brookside Bar and Grill have worked cooperatively with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to address the matters raised in the complaint without the need for litigation.


Employer Refused to Delay Start Date as Accommodation, EEOC Alleges

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued Saint Clare's Health in New Jersey, alleging it refused to accommodate a new hire's disability by delaying her start date, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (EEOC v. Prime Healthcare Services - Saint Clare's LLC dba Saint Clare's Health, No. 2:21-cv-2055 (D.N.J, Feb. 8, 2021)).

The EMS dispatcher, who was six months pregnant, was offered a position and told she would receive leave for the birth of her child; when she experienced impairments related to her pregnancy, she was induced into early labor five days before her start date, according to the commission. She contacted the employer asking about next steps but it rescinded her offer, "even though she needed only the minor accommodation of delaying her start date by several weeks," EEOC said in a statement announcing the suit.

St. Clare's failed to engage in the interactive process in good faith after being put on notice of McKay's disability and need of assistance for the disability, the agency alleged in its complaint. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

While normal pregnancy alone doesn't trigger ADA protections, conditions or complications as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia may do so.


Katko Helps Push Bill to Protect Pregnant Workers from Workplace Discrimination

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act as a proposed law that would protect pregnant employees from workplace discrimination.

U.S. Representative John Katko (R–Camillus) on Feb. 18 announced the reintroduction of the bill along with U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D–NY), Lucy McBath (D–Georgia), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R–Washington), and Bobby Scott (D–Virginia).

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would address legal “ambiguities” and help ensure that pregnant women are treated fairly on the job, per Katko’s office. The legislation - which is “closely modeled” after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - would require employers to make “reasonable” accommodations, such as a minor job modification, that would allow pregnant workers to continue working and prevent their companies from forcing them to go on leave or quit their jobs.

The bill would also prohibit employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for “reasonable” accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has “broad support” from more than 200 worker advocacy, civil rights, and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Katko’s office said.

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