Newsletter: June 15, 2016

Northeast ADA Center News Bulletin: June 15, 2016

Updates from the Northeast ADA Center:

Employer Panel: Disability Inclusiveness Practices and the Just-in-Time Program-Free Webinar

Presented By Hannah Rudstam, Wednesday June 22nd from 1:00pm to 2:00pm EST

During this interactive webinar, employers across a variety of sectors will discuss disability inclusiveness practices in their organizations and their implementation of the Just-in-Time (JIT) approach.  Participants will have a chance to pose questions to these employers and discuss the challenges, strategies, solutions and opportunities they experienced in using the JIT approach and cultivating disability inclusive organizations.  To register go to: http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=5660

How Can We Help? The Impact of Technical Assistance

Presented By: Joe Zesski and the TA Team at the Northeast ADA Center, Wednesday, July 13th 1:00 pm to 2:00 PM EST

The Northeast ADA Center's technical assistance team provides one-on-one, on-demand ADA guidance to any stakeholder in the region, New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The team connects individuals and organizations with targeted resources and information, and assists with ADA and disability related issues. Because the Northeast ADA Center fields questions from individuals, businesses, educational institutions, state and local governments, disability services and other professionals, we are in a unique position to gather data about common and recurring issues across the region. This webinar will share what the Northeast ADA has learned from its technical assistance data about the most common ADA/disability related issues impacting the region and who is reaching out to the Northeast ADA Center for guidance. This webinar also will highlight outcomes experienced by individuals and organizations who have received technical assistance support from the Northeast ADA.

To register, go to: http://www.edi.cornell.edu/register/index.cfm?event=5661

What's New in Our Region:

Judge approves overhaul of Access-A-Ride, makes it easier for passengers with disabilities to appeal denial of service

A judge has approved an overhaul of the Access-A-Ride application process, making it easier for people with disabilities to appeal decisions by the transportation service.  Manhattan Federal Court Judge Jesse Furman greenlighted a settlement between the five plaintiffs with disabilities and the MTA, which operates Access-A-Ride.  Under the settlement, the service will provide applicants given limited privileges or denied outright details why that decision was made.  Previously, applicants received generic denial letters.  "We're glad that New York City Transit agreed to change its procedures and policies to give people who depend on these services a fair shot," said Nahid Sorooshyari, an attorney at MFY Legal Services. To read more go to: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/access-a-ride-overhaul-disabled-people-appeals-article-1.2644550

Niagara Q&A: Whalen's a man on a mission in promoting access for people with disabilities

David V. Whalen has a mission - to educate others to treat all people with dignity, respect, equity, and inclusion, particularly people with disabilities.  Recognizing this need, Whalen started his own company, Disability Awareness Training, in 2004.  He now heads Niagara University's First Responder Disability Awareness Training (DAT) program, which he established through a state grant in 2010. Whalen focuses specifically on training first-responders - those in law enforcement and fire and emergency medical services agencies, as well as emergency management personnel, service providers and other disability advocates.   "I brought my business to Niagara and it's been a very successful relationship," he said.  And people have taken notice. This spring, Whalen was named Advocate of the Year by Deaf Access Services of Western New York.

To read more go to: http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/niagara-county/niagara-qa-whalens-a-man-on-a-mission-in-promoting-access-for-the-disabled-20160605

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Justice Department Files Statement of Interest Regarding Leave as a Reasonable Accommodation

On May 19, 2016, the Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a Statement of Interest (SOI) in Golden v. Indianapolis Housing Agency, No. 15-cv-00766 (S.D. Ind.).  Our SOI clarifies the proper interpretation of Section 504 and the ADA with respect to an employer's obligation to consider a request for additional, unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation and its obligation to evaluate whether an employee who seeks an accommodation is qualified.  Specifically, we argue that an employer must consider an employee's request for additional, unpaid leave as a request for a reasonable accommodation if the additional leave is necessary to enable an employee with a disability to return to work after treatment and care of a disability-related condition, even if the employer has a policy limiting the number of weeks employees can take medical-related leave.  We further argue that it is inappropriate to consider whether the employee could perform the essential functions of her job during the time period she requested disability-related leave as a reasonable accommodation.  Instead, we argue that the correct assessment of whether an employee is a qualified individual should be made as of the date the employee anticipates returning to work-i.e., at the end of the leave of absence the employee is requesting

For more information, visit the ADA website at, www.ADA.gov.  Those interested in finding out more about the ADA may also call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY).

Improvement Seen In Disability Employment

The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is down significantly, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday.  Figures released in the agency's monthly jobs report show that the jobless rate for Americans with disabilities fell to 9.7 percent in May, down from 10.7 percent the month prior.  The shift comes as the economy as a whole added just 38,000 jobs and the unemployment rate for the general population declined slightly to 4.7 percent.  Federal officials began tracking employment among people with disabilities in October 2008. There is not yet enough data compiled to establish seasonal trends among this population, so statistics for this group are not seasonally adjusted.  Data on people with disabilities covers those over the age of 16 who do not live in institutions. The first employment report specific to this population was made available in February 2009. Now, reports are released monthly.

To view this article go to: https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2016/06/03/jobs-may-16/22366/

Opportunities for You!

Rights of Veterans with Disabilities in Employment, Housing and Transportation-Free webinar

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016 2:00 AM EDT - 3:30 AM EDT

This webinar will focus on federal laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), the Fair Housing Act (FHA), and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), as they apply to veterans with disabilities. Topics will include reasonable accommodation in the workplace and non-discrimination in housing and traveling by bus, train, or plane. This webinar is suitable for service providers and advocates who may work with veterans, and veterans with disabilities interested in learning more about their rights under federal law in employment, housing, and transportation.

To register go to: http://dev.accessibilityonline.org/ADA-Audio/schedule

Special Spotlight:  

Two Hawk Employment Services to Pay $30,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Two Hawk Employment Services, LLC, a Lumberton, N.C., temporary employment agency, will pay $30,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. EEOC had charged that Two Hawk violated federal law when it made illegal medical inquiries of job applicants and failed to retain employment applications as required by federal law. The suit also alleged Two Hawk failed to hire an applicant because she disclosed her disability during the application process.  According to EEOC's complaint in the lawsuit, Nicole Bullard applied for employment with Two Hawk in May 2013. Bullard was required to fill out a medical history form during the application process. The complaint states that the form asked Bullard to identify medical conditions she has or had in the past, as well as to disclose whether she was taking any medications that might affect her ability to perform the essential functions of the job she sought. The form further asked Bullard to state whether she had physical or mental conditions that require accommodation, and whether she had any restrictions in activity. EEOC's complaint indicates that in response to the application's questions, Bullard disclosed that she was taking two prescription medications.  To read more go to: http://www.natlawreview.com/article/two-hawk-employment-services-to-pay-30000-to-settle-eeoc-disability-discrimination