ADA in the News March 17, 2021

First Circuit Weighs in on ADA's ‘Single Integrated Employer' Test and Reckless Indifference Standard for Punitive Damages

the First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict for the plaintiff in his failure to accommodate claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA). The court's opinion provides a useful reference for the "single integrated employer" test for liability under the ADA. More significantly, it is an important reminder for employers regarding how seriously to evaluate accommodation requests, how promptly to respond to them, and how informed employees should be throughout the process. The First Circuit's ruling shows that the consequences of failing to adequately respond to accommodation requests could lead to a finding that the employer acted with reckless indifference and is liable for punitive damages.


Accommodating Employees with COVID-19-Related Symptoms

Employers across the United States are receiving accommodation requests from employees who currently have COVID-19 or who have recovered from COVID-19 but have long-term effects. As a result, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) received questions about whether COVID-19 is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and what accommodations might be provided.


Navigating website ADA compliance

William D. Goren, a Decatur, Georgia, lawyer and ADA expert, hosted the session, titled “The Wild West of Internet Accessibility Litigation,” with ABA Techshow 2021 planning board member Darla Jackson. Goren, who told attendees he wears hearing aids for hearing loss, discussed the finer points of what it means to make a website ADA compliant, noting there are still unresolved legal questions about whether Title III of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in places of “public accommodations,” would apply to websites.


“Crip Camp” and the Disability Rights Movement

It is an unexpected sight: all kinds of kids with all kinds of disabilities at summer camp having the time of their lives. The year was 1971. The place: Camp Jened, in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

Jim Lebrecht, born with spina bifida, was one of the campers: “Wow, Camp Jened was a place that was a utopia,” he said. “It was a place where all of a sudden the rest of the outside world seemed to just disappear.”

Judy Heumann, who got polio at 18 months old, was a counselor there: “I really laughed when I saw the film - it was so funny to see me at 21!” And we are seeing this old footage now as part of a recent documentary, called “Crip Camp.” The film is on the shortlist for an Oscar nomination.

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