The US Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in Wisconsin directing it to ensure that private voucher program schools do not discriminate against students with disabilities. The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and Disability Rights Wisconsin filed a complaint in 2011 alleging that the programs discourage students with disabilities from participating in the voucher program, deny admission to students with disabilities, and expel or otherwise force students with disabilities to leave the programs by failing to accommodate their needs. DOJ told DPI that, regardless of the fact that the voucher schools are private or secular, the voucher program must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act since public funds are used.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a statement of interest in a case in Illinois in which the plaintiffs argue that the Olmstead decision created a right to institutionalization. The case was filed by guardians of individuals who reside in one of the state’s Developmental Centers. Illinois plans to close two of its centers and redirect the dollars to community-based services. In its brief, DOJ stated that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not confer a right to remain in any given institution and that courts have found that it does not violate federal law for states to close an institution.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have jointly released new guidance on design and construction requirements under the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on disability, race, color, national origin, religion, sex and familial status; it requires that multifamily housing built for first occupancy after March 1991 contain accessible features for persons with disabilities. According to HUD, “The new guidance is designed to assist design professionals, developers and builders in understanding and meeting their obligations and to assist persons with disabilities in understanding their rights regarding the ‘design and construction’ requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act.”
HUD has also issued a notice on assistance animals and reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. The notice discusses the intersection of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act with regard to assistance animals, describing housing owner’s obligations under the Fair Housing Act and when multiple nondiscrimination laws apply.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief opposing a motion for preliminary injunction in Illinois League of Advocates for the Developmentally Disabled v. Quinn. The plaintiffs in the case argue that Olmstead forbids the State of Illinois from closing institutions for people with developmental disabilities. The plaintiffs are guardians of individuals residing in the Jacksonville Developmental Center and the Murray Developmental Center which the state of Illinois plans to close in 2013. The guardians argue that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives people a right to live in a segregated institution. Illinois wants to shift resources away from institutions in order to expand community based services and supports.
In filing the brief, DOJ is clarifying that nothing in the ADA’s integration mandate, its implementing regulations, or case law confers a right to remain in any given institution.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) entered into a settlement agreement with Alia Corporation, a franchisee with over 20 fast-food chain restaurants in central California, to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit on behalf of an employee with an intellectual disability. Derrick Morgan was a good employee who was promoted by previous management from crew member to supervisor. When Alia took over, Mr. Morgan was demoted, his hours were cut, and his hourly wages were reduced. He was forced to find other employment and resign.
The three-year consent decree requires Alia to hire an equal employment opportunity monitor, establish anti-discrimination policies and procedures, develop a complaint process, track complaints, and provide training to human resources and management employees. Alia agreed to pay Mr. Morgan $100,000.
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.
H.R. 777, a bill to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has been introduced by Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA). The bill would require people with disabilities to wait for a period of time before filing a discrimination lawsuit in order to give businesses, stores, restaurants, and other public accommodation time to correct the problem. The Arc opposes this bill. The ADA was passed over 20 years ago. Businesses have had ample time to make their establishments accessible to people with disabilities.
The Department of Justice’s January 31, 2013 extension of the deadline for making public swimming pools, pools in hotels, motels, health clubs, and recreation centers accessible to people with disabilities has come and gone. The regulations concerning the pools were due to become final in March 2012. However, due to confusion on the part of pool operators in hotels and motels, DOJ pushed the implementation date back to January 31, 2013. The rules will bring pools and spas into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed in 1990.
Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) introduced H.R. 203, the Pool Safe Act, which would make changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The bill would change the current requirement that public entities and commercial facilities provide access to swimming pools by installing permanent swimming pool lifts. It also would make it acceptable under the ADA to provide portable pool lifts upon request even if installing a permanent lift were readily achievable. A similar bill was introduced during the past session of Congress but did not advance.
The Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has issued Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2013-1, to clarify that the age of a son or daughter at the onset of a disability is not relevant in determining a parent’s entitlement to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A parent is entitled to take FMLA leave to care for a son or daughter 18 years of age or older, if the adult son or daughter has a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, is incapable of self-care due to that disability, has a serious health condition, and is in need of care due to the serious health condition. The new DOL guidance clarifies that the age of onset is not relevant to a determination of whether a parent is entitled to FMLA leave. The Administrator’s Interpretation also provides guidance on the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 on the FMLA definition of son or daughter, and the impact on FMLA leave for parents caring for adult children wounded in military service.