DOJ Intervenes in Oregon Employment Lawsuit

Last week, the United States moved to intervene in the class action lawsuit, Lane v. Kitzhaber, No. 12-cv-138 (D. Or.).  The United States’ complaint in intervention alleges that the State has violated Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act by unnecessarily segregating thousands of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in sheltered workshops, and by placing them at risk of such segregation, when they could be served in integrated employment settings.  Individuals who are at risk of unnecessary segregation include youth with I/DD who are referred for admission to sheltered workshops after graduating from or exiting Oregon secondary schools.

The Department opened an investigation in October 2011 into whether Oregon is violating Title II of the ADA by placing persons with I/DD in segregated sheltered workshops when such persons are capable of working in integrated workplaces with appropriate supports and services, i.e., supported employment.  The Center for Public Representation (CPR) and Disability Rights Oregon (DRO), along with two private law firms, filed Lane v. Kitzhaber to challenge segregated workshop placements under Olmstead.  On August 6, 2012, the court certified a class defined as “all individuals in Oregon with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are in, or who have been referred to, sheltered workshops” and “who are qualified for supported employment services.”  In June 2012, the Division filed a Statement of Interest in support of class certification and issued a Letter of Findings concluding that Oregon’s sheltered workshop system violated Title II of the ADA and Olmstead.   This information was provided by The Department of Justice.