Newsletter: September 28, 2012

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin - September 28, 2012

What's New in Our Region:

Jogger plans suit against the City of New York: 

Disability Rights Attorney Richard Bernstein who is blind is planning to file a federal lawsuit against New York City, because he claims that they have made Central Park functionally inaccessible. This claim is the result of the city not enforcing the rules regarding bicycle speeding in the park. While running in the park, Bernstein was struck by a speeding cyclist, which caused him to sustain multiple injuries. To read more, visit: http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-09-12/news/33794984_1_cyclist-blind-man-reckless-bikers

State Accused of $15 Billion Fraud Scheme

A congressional committee has accused New York State of overbilling Medicare billions of dollars for payments related to state institutions for persons with mental disabilities. The committee has produced a report documenting the alleged fraud, which they say dates to 1990. The Governor's office has denied the charges and called the report "misleading." To read more, visit:  http://www.wmbfnews.com/story/19606599/congressional-report-faults-ny-medicaid-rate

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Judge: Texas Firm Must Pay Workers with Disability at Iowa Turkey Plant $1.4 Million in Back Pay

A judge has ordered that a Texas based company, Henry's Turkey Service operating in Iowa, must give back pay to several workers with disabilities that were exploited for decades. The company paid some workers with disabilities only 41 cents an hour that worked up to 40 hours a week. Even though the workers were paid less than they should have been for decades, the back pay granted to the workers in the case was limited, by law, to two years before the case was filed.

To read more about the case, visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/judge-texas-firm-must-pay-disabled-workers-at-iowa-turkey-plant-14-million-in-back-pay/2012/09/19/0aff1d34-0278-11e2-9132-f2750cd65f97_story.html

The High Cost of Predatory ADA Lawsuits

There have been discussions among advocates in California about the effects of the increase in lawsuits against businesses in California, filed under the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which allows plaintiffs to receive compensatory damages for access violations. For example, California permits plaintiffs the right to compensatory damages of $4,000 per access infraction, plus attorney's fees, under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Other states only permit litigants to receive attorney's fees and injunctive relief leading to addressing the ADA violations. This article discusses how some lawyers are taking advantage of these laws in order to file what some have termed ADA access "drive-by" lawsuits. For instance, some lawyers and their clients are filing hundreds of lawsuits for access violations only for collecting composition and not for fixing the access issues at hand. This article discusses the changes that are being proposed in the California legislature to address the effects of these drive-by lawsuits.

To read more, visit: http://www.newmobility.com/articleView.cfm?id=12195

Wal-Mart Settles EEOC Lawsuit for $50,000

National retailer Wal-Mart recently settled an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit brought by the EEOC, involving a worker with a disability at a store in New Mexico. According to the suit, the employee was denied a requested reasonable accommodation. As part of the settlement, Wal-Mart is required to conduct annual ADA training for management at its Carlsbad, New Mexico store. Wal-Mart is also required to engage in an interactive process for addressing future requests for reasonable accommodation. To read more about the settlement visit:  http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/8-21-12.cfm

Assistant Labor Secretary Kathy Martinez on How Former Workers with Disabilities Can Find Employment Again

Assistant Labor Secretary Kathy Martinez provides practical tips and advice for persons with disabilities looking to return to the workforce. She also reviews the benefits of programs such as the Ticket to Work and other work incentives programs, and discusses resources that would benefit people with disabilities looking to return to the workforce. To read more, visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/assistant-labor-secretary-kathy-martinez-on-how-disabled-former-workers-can-find-employment-again/2012/08/21/602229e2-e882-11e1-936a-b801f1abab19_story.html

Employer Network Promotes Jobs for Wounded Veterans 

The Society for Human Resource Management profiles the initiative titled "Network of Champions," which is a network of more than 100 employers that are working to increase the hiring of veterans with disabilities. The companies in the network share resources and strategies for recruiting and retaining veterans with disabilities. The article below discusses the challenges that companies face in recruiting veterans with disabilities, and how companies are meeting these challenges. To read more, visit: http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/staffingmanagement/Articles/Pages/Employer-Network-Works-for-Wounded-Vets.aspx  

Accommodation and Compliance Series Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact

The Job Accommodation Network has updated its ongoing study of the costs and benefits of job related accommodations. Hundreds of employers took part in the survey; findings indicate that the majority of job accommodations cost nothing to provide. The report also presents other key findings such as "76% of employers who responded reported that accommodations were either very effective or extremely effective and that employers experience multiple direct and indirect benefits after making accommodations".  To read the report, visit: http://askjan.org/media/lowcosthighimpact.html

Opportunities for You!

ADA Coordinator Training Certification Program

This conference will feature a variety of presentations related to different aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act such as Effective Communication and Recreation Guidelines. Conference speakers will include a variety of experts on the ADA from organizations such as the Department of Justice and the U.S. Access Board. The conference will be held from October 22-23, 2012 in Kansas City, MO.  To register visit: http://www.adacoordinator.org/conference.html

Webinars in Commemoration of the National Disability Employment Awareness Month

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN) will be hosting four weekly webinars in celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month on Thursdays in October from 2:00-2:30 p.m. EDT. The first webinar is scheduled for October 4, 2012.  

To register visit: http://www.askearn.org/webinar_registration_2012_October.cfm

Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Topic: Basics of Electronic Document Accessibility

This webinar provides information on the best practices and strategies for complying with section 508 the Rehabilitation Act Amendments. Topics covered in the webinar include what federal agencies can do to make it easier to produce accessible documents, as well as resources that can be used to help ensure accessibility. The recommended audience for the webinar includes communications professionals and office administrators, as well as anyone involved in the production of electronic documents. The webinar will be held October 10, 2012 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM.

To register visit: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/index.cfm?event=3987

Special Spotlight!

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month!

The goal of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to highlight the contributions of Americans with disabilities to the American workforce. The theme for this year is "A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?" The Office of Disability and Employment Policy encourages people and organizations all across the country to participate in the month-long celebration, and help to make America and the workforce more inclusive of persons with disabilities.

For more on National Disability Employment Awareness Month:

National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2012

http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/

National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2012: Resource Toolbox

http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/resources.htm

Order your Poster for National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2012

http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/resources.htm#Poster

US Labor Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy announces 2012 theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month:  http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/odep/ODEP20120857.htm

The Campaign for Disability Employment congratulates the following 2012 "What can YOU do?" Video Contest winners:

http://whatcanyoudocampaign.org/blog/index.php/vermont_gov_article_july_10_2012/