September 2014
Volume 10 Issue 9 
 
 
 

Trainings & Events

Accessibility Online Webinar Series
Open Question and Answer Session
September 4th, 2014 1:30-3:00 CT.
Back by popular demand! Accessibility specialists and information technology specialists from the Access Board are available to answer your burning questions during this session. Session participants are requested to submit questions in advance on the 2010 ADA Accessibility Standard, the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standard, Section 508, Medical Diagnostic Equipment or other Board rulemakings or activities. Accessibility specialists will answer questions submitted in advance during the first half of the session, leaving time in the second half to answer questions in the live session.
Speakers:
Marsha K. Mazz -Director, Office of Technical and Information Services, US Access Board
Rex Pace -Senior Accessibility Specialist and Technical Assistance Coordinator, US Access Board
For more information visit AccessibilityOnline at http://www.accessibilityonline.org
ADA Legal Webinar Series
Websites and the ADA: Accessibility in the Digital Age
September 18, 2014 1-2:30 CT
When the ADA was enacted in 1990, the internet had not yet become such an important part of people's lives, including the lives of people with disabilities. Now that the internet has become such an integral tool for businesses, employers and governmental entities, courts have been grappling with how the ADA applies to websites. Also, the Department of Justice has announced it will be revising its regulations to address website accessibility. This webinar will review the legal theories on applying the ADA to the internet and discuss the case law analyzing this issue. Don't miss this session as accessibility moves beyond ramps and onto the world wide web.
Speakers:
Barry Taylor -Vice President of Civil Rights and Systemic Litigation
Rachel M. Weisberg - Staff Attorney, Equip for Equality
For more information visit ADA Audio Conference site at http://www.ada-audio.org/ or call (877) 232-1990.
Accessible Technology Webinar Series
Android is Accessible. Really.
September 25, 2014 1-2:30 CT
Most people in the blindness community know Apple devices are accessible, but many don't realize other mobile devices also include off-the-shelf accessibility. This presentation discusses the level of accessibility available on Android to people who are blind or have low vision. It focuses on the accessibility services, settings, and apps routinely used by the eyes-free Android community to work with their phones and tablets. The level of detail is suitable for people interested in the operating system, comparable to what is found in a quick-start guide
    Session Objectives:
  • Android is accessible. TalkBack, BrailleBack, and Explore by touch are accessibility services available to people who are blind or low-vision
  • Android is customizable. Features and settings associated with screen readers in other platforms are available to Android users through third-party apps
  • Android is original. Google's approach to things is a little wild and a little experimental. It's approach to accessibility is no exception.
Speakers:
For more information visit ADA Audio Conference site at http://www.ada-audio.org
Accessibility Online Webinar Series
Accessibility Standards - "Building Blocks" - A Refresher
October 2nd, 2014 1:30-3:00 CT.
In this session, we will provide an in-depth review of the criteria for ground and floor surfaces, turning spaces, clear floor and ground spaces, knee and toe clearances, protruding objects, reach ranges, and operable parts. Special attention will be given to how these criteria affect the usability of an element or space using illustrations from the Board's new "Guide to the Standards". Attendees are encouraged to review the previous session on this topic and submit questions in advance for this discussion.
Speakers:
Dave Yanchulis -Coordinator of Public Affairs, Office of Technical and Information Services, US Access Board
Bill R. Botten -Accessibility Specialist, Office of Technical and Information Services, US Access Board
For more information visit AccessibilityOnline at http://www.accessibilityonline.org
 

News from the Federal Agencies

U.S. Access Board

Guide on Access to Outdoor Sites Available from the Board

A new guide on achieving accessible outdoor sites, including trails and camping areas, is now available from the Access Board (electronic versions only, not print copies). The 100-page document discusses and illustrates provisions of accessibility guidelines the Board issued last fall for outdoor sites developed by the federal government. These guidelines provide detailed specifications for accessible trails, picnic and camping areas, viewing areas, beach access routes and other components of outdoor developed areas when newly built or altered.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

EEOC Issues New Guide to Help Federal Agencies Advise Workers on Their Rights

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released a new guide to help the federal government educate its employees on how to protect their rights to be free from employment discrimination.

The report, A Practical Guide to Providing Employees with Adequate Information about Their Rights under Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws and Regulations, provides federal agencies various communication methods to ensure their employees and applicants for employment are fully aware of their rights under the equal employment opportunity laws and regulations.

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

RockTenn CP, LLC formerly known as Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation, will pay $20,000 and furnish other relief to resolve a discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced. 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 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.

EEOC Lawsuit Challenges Orion Energy Wellness Program and Related Firing of Employee

Orion Energy Systems violated federal law by requiring an employee to submit to medical exams and inquiries that were not job-related and consistent with business necessity. This was part of a so-called "wellness program," which was not voluntary, and then by firing the employee when she objected to the program, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed.

MPW Industrial Services Will Pay $37,500 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

MPW Industrial Services Inc., a provider of industrial cleaning, facility management and labor support services, will pay $37,500 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

According to the EEOC's suit, MPW Industrial Services terminated Todd Semko from his position as a laborer before his first day of work after it learned during a fitness-for-duty evaluation that he has an implanted Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit in his lower back for a back impairment.

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with the City of Baltimore

The Justice Department has reached an agreement with the city of Baltimore, Maryland, to end hiring practices that discriminate against people with disabilities. The agreement, filed as a consent decree along with a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, resolves allegations by the department that the city engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Department of Justice Reaches Agreement with the Louisiana Supreme Court

The Justice Department announced that it has entered into a settlement agreement with the Louisiana Supreme Court that will resolve the department's investigation of the court's policies, practices and procedures for evaluating bar applicants with mental health disabilities. The department's investigation found that during the Louisiana bar admissions process licensing entities based recommendations about bar admission on mental health diagnosis and treatment rather than conduct that would warrant denial of admission to the bar.

DOJ Announces $1.5 Million Paid to Victims of Discrimination by Quiktrip Corporation

The Justice Department today announced the payment of more than $1.5 million in damages under a consent decree previously reached with QuikTrip Corporation. The payments were made by QuikTrip to compensate 47 individuals with disabilities who experienced discrimination at QuikTrip gas stations and convenience stores across the country, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Extension of Comment Period for Proposed Rule

The proposed regulation for movie theaters, Movie captioning and audio description was published in the Federal Register on August 1, 2014, and the comment period was to close on September 30, 2014; however, on September 2, 2014 the Attorney General granted a 60-day extension of the comment period and all comments are now due on December 1, 2014. The Justice Department encourages the public to review the NPRM and submit comments.

Great Lakes In Focus

Justice Department Announces 15th Anniversary of Olmstead Decision Video Compilation

The 15th Anniversary of Olmstead video compilation is a DOJ/HHS tribute to the dedicated and brave individuals who have brought to life the Olmstead decision's promise of community integration for people with disabilities. The video features images and live interviews from disability rights advocates, including Sue Jamieson, the lead attorney in the Olmstead case, and people with disabilities who live independently and fully participate in their communities.

The advocates whose stories are featured in the film -- Melissa Taylor, Ricardo Thornton, Justin Duvall, Sharon Ledford, and Stefon and Shareen Young-Chavez-- all reside in the DC Metro area and participate in their communities. The film also features statements from Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Associate Attorney General Tony West, highlighting the Civil Rights Division's Olmstead enforcement efforts, as well as its ongoing commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities can live and participate in, and contribute to, our communities.

Additionally, Voices from the Olmstead Decision, the companion video to The Promise of Olmstead: 15 Years Later, features video clips submitted by individuals with disabilities, their family members, and other stakeholders from across the nation whose lives have been positively impacted by Olmstead's promise of community integration. Both videos are available on the Olmstead Homepage.

The Docket

Summers v. Altarum Institute, Corp., 740 F. 3d 325

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit became the first federal appellate court to hold that a sufficiently severe temporary impairment may constitute a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by applying the expanded definition of disability from the ADA amendments Act (ADAAA). In Summers v. Altarum Institute, Summers, a senior analyst for a government contractor, sustained severe injuries to both legs in an accidental fall, which his doctors estimated would leave him unable to walk for seven months. The employee initiated discussions with his employer about a plan to gradually return to work from home part-time during his recovery. The employee alleged that his employer failed to engage him in an interactive process by never responding to his requests to devise a return-to-work plan, and instead terminated his employment.

The employee filed suit in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, alleging wrongful discharge on account of disability and failure to accommodate. The district court dismissed his claims finding that a temporary condition, even up to a year, does not fall under the ADA, and further suggested that the plaintiff was not disabled because he could have worked with the assistance of a wheelchair. Summers appealed the dismissal of his wrongful discharge claim.

The Fourth Circuit Court reversed the district court's decision. The Circuit Court determined that, while short-term impairments may qualify as disabilities under the ADAAA only if they are "sufficiently severe," plaintiff's allegations that his accident left him "unable to walk for seven months" and that "without surgery, pain medication, and physical therapy, he 'likely' would have been unable to walk for far longer" met the "sufficiently severe" standard necessary to sustain his claim.

From the ADA Expert

Question:One of my employees has requested to be able to bring his cat into the workplace as a reasonable accommodation . The employee is bi-polar and his 'service animal' is a cat. Although he does have documentation of his disability, we are not sure that his cat qualifies as a service animal. Our company has not developed a policy specifically dealing with service animals. How should we proceed?

Answer:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires covered employers to evaluate requests for reasonable accommodations on a case by case basis. Employers are required by the ADA to provide reasonable accommodations when needed to provide equal access to the application process, when needed to allow a qualified employee the opportunity to perform the job or when needed to provide equal access to any benefit associated with the job.

A disability under the ADA is defined as:

A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or:

A record or history of such an impairment or

Being regarded as having such an impairment.

In addition, an applicant/employee must be qualified to perform the job with or without a reasonable accommodation to be protected by the ADA.

An employer has the right to request documentation for an employee requesting a reasonable accommodation when the need for the accommodation or the disability is not readily apparent. You only have the right to receive documentation on the specific medical condition or disability for which the employee has requested the accommodation. You do not have the right to a complete medical history.

You indicate that you have determined from documentation provided by the employee that he is covered by the ADA. It would be reasonable to get information on the service or task the animal performs for the employee and how the service or task allows the individual to be able to perform his job. Also, you are never required to provide any reasonable accommodation that would pose an undue hardship. An undue hardship is defined as requiring significant difficulty or expense.

It would not be necessary to create a policy specifically on service animals. If you have a policy and procedure for handling requests for reasonable accommodations then you should be set for responding to employee requests.

For additional information please contact the Great Lakes ADA Center at (800) 949-4232 (V/TTY) or by completing the online form: http://adagreatlakes.com/WebForms/ContactUs/>

For more information please call 800-949-4232 (Voice/TTY) or Online via Contact Us form.

Great Lakes ADA Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Disability and Human Development (MC 728)
1640 West Roosevelt Road, Room 405
Chicago, Illinois 60608-6904
 
 
 
 

Last Updated on:
Fri Sep 12, 2014