ADA in the News: September 3, 2014

Consent Decree: City of New Rochelle, New York | Complaint

1.      Appeals court to reconsider fired Ford worker's telecommuting case

Business Insurance

The federal appeals court in Cincinnati has voted to reconsider en banc an April ruling in which an appellate panel had reinstated a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a disabled Ford Motor Co. worker who was denied a telecommuting arrangement and terminated.


Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation Pays $20,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

According to the EEOC's complaint filed on June 27, 2013, Darren Fraley was hired by Smurfit-Stone as a third shift production supervisor on August 25, 2008. In February 2009, Fraley was hospitalized with a severe back condition. On February 17, 2009, Fraley informed Smurfit-Stone's senior human resources clerk that he had been hospitalized, was under a doctor's care and would require back surgery. Because of his short tenure at the company, Fraley was not eligible for disability leave. However, Fraley was erroneously placed on short term disability, effective February 2009. From February 2009 through July 2009, Fraley kept the HR clerk informed about his prognosis, condition, and return-to-work status.

The EEOC further alleged that on July 29, 2009, the HR clerk contacted Fraley and informed him that he had been mistakenly placed on short term disability for which he was ineligible and that he was being terminated effective August 1, 2009. Fraley objected to the termination and told the HR clerk that he was scheduled to be released to return to work the following week. On August 3, 2009, Fraley's doctor released him to return to work without restrictions, effective August 4, 2009. Smurfit-Stone refused to allow Fraley leave as a reasonable accommodation for his disability for the period from around July 29, 2009 until he was released to return to work around August 4, 2009. Rather, the company discharged Fraley because he could not return to work because of his disability.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Florence Division (Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission v. RockTenn CP, LLC f/k/a Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation; Civil Action No. 4:13-CV-01759-BHH) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.


Pennsylvania Prison System Faces Lawsuit Over Suicide of Young Man with Mental Illness

Solitary Watch

On July 17, 2012, Brandon Palakovic, 23, committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell while housed in a solitary confinement unit at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Cresson, a Pennsylvania prison that has since closed its doors.

Nearly two years later, on July 8, 2014, Palakovic’s parents filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC). Represented by Bret Grote in association with the Abolitionist Law Center, Mike Healey, and Jules Lobel, Renee and Darian Palakovic seek damages for the alleged role the PADOC had in exacerbating Brandon’s mental health problems and in his passing.

The PADOC and those involved with the management of SCI Cresson stand accused of intentionally withholding necessary health treatment from mentally ill prisoners such as Brandon Palakovic, and repeatedly isolating them in solitary confinement—a practice deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The defendants declined to comment on the allegations when contacted by Solitary Watch.


What qualifies as a service dog? Do you need official documentation?

News 10NBC

We have a follow-up to a story that has a lot of people talking on social media. A woman claims she was asked to leave a Starbucks in Brighton after bringing her service dog inside.

After our story aired Monday night, a lot of you wanted to know what exactly qualifies as a service dog and do you need official documentation to be allowed inside places like Starbucks?


New Illinois Law requires employers to provide accommodations to pregnant employees and applicants


Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has approved a law providing additional protections for pregnant women in the workplace. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2015. 

House Bill 8 (P.A. 98-1050) amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) and creates new responsibilities for employers with respect to their pregnant workers beyond those required under federal law. 

Illinois joins a growing number of states that make employers provide some form of accommodation to pregnant workers. (For an example, see our article, California Issues Amended Pregnancy Regulations, Extends Coverage to Perceived Pregnancy.) Significantly, as illustrated by the new Illinois law, these state laws impose different and arguably greater obligations on businesses than federal laws such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), even after passage of the ADA Amendments Act (“ADAAA”). 


Lawsuits fail to satisfy either side of ADA coin

Merced Sun-Star

No matter which side they’re on, the people involved in disability access lawsuits seem to have one thing in common: supreme frustration.


Lawsuit alleges age discrimination against motorcycle shop owners

Pocono Record

A 55-year-old former employee of Snydersville's Pocono Mountain Motorcycle has sued alleging discrimination based on his age and disability.

Randy Detrick, who worked at the business for 10 years according to court records, filed the lawsuit Aug. 22. He was terminated or "not hired," according to the complaint, in February 2013 around the time ownership of the business passed from Rose Schoch to Jim and Linda Schlier.

Detrick names Pocono Mountain Motorcycle, Jim and Linda Schlier and his supervisor Troy Behler in the suit, which alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

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