ADA in the News June 4, 2021

EEOC Sues Symphony of Joliet for Pregnancy and Disability Discrimination

Symphony of Joliet, a nursing home, rehabilitation center and long-term residential care facility in Joliet, Ill., violated federal civil rights laws by disadvantaging pregnant employees in various ways, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed.

Julianne Bowman, the district director of the EEOC’s office in Chicago, said that the EEOC’s pre-suit investigation revealed that Symphony had a written policy that required pregnant women to disclose their pregnancies. There was no similar written policy requiring other, non-pregnant employees to disclose medical information. Further, pregnant employees were forced to get doctor’s notes indicating that they could work without restrictions, even if they were not asking for an accommodation. Pregnant employees who did have restrictions and who had not worked for Symphony for a year were fired, and Symphony categorized them as ineligible for rehire.


Staff Training Key to Shifting Attitudes on Accessibility for Disability Community

Many staffers are heading back to Capitol Hill, and official visitors aren’t far behind, but the return to offices is prompting questions about gaps in physical and digital accessibility in Congress for staff, lobbyists, constituents and lawmakers with disabilities. With historic buildings and slow adoption of technology, Congress still has a long way to go to make itself accessible not just in the physical space but also online, where so much business has been conducted in the past year.

The House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress dug into this issue at a recent hearing, following up on three recommendations the panel made in the 116th Congress to improve website access, closed captioning and to study physical barriers across the Capitol campus.


Naomi Osaka Should Be Accommodated on Mental Health, Not Threatened

Before her first match at the French Open, Osaka had informed tournament officials that news conferences adversely impacted her mental health, and that she would be willing to be fined for not participating in them during the tournament. She also said she hoped that any fines she paid would be donated to "a mental health charity."

Shockingly, not only did the president of the French Tennis Federation not agree to Osaka’s reasonable request for an accommodation, he persuaded the heads of the other three Grand Slams - the U.S. Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open - to publicly release the contents of a letter they wrote to Osaka in which they threatened to disqualify Osaka from all four tournaments.

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