Newsletter: June 08, 2009

Northeast ADA June 8, 2009

What's New in Our Region:

You Can Still Sign Up for our FREE Workshops in NY and NJ! 
We have 15 spaces left in the free one-day DBTAC Northeast workshops being offered July 9th at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY. and August 13th at the Trenton Marriott at Lafayette Yard in Trenton, NJ.  Program participants will review updates to the ADA and state disability laws, discuss current hot topics, and understand new visions for disability inclusiveness as competitive advantage.  Workshop topics include hiring trends; the economic downturn; service animals; transition issues for students; psychiatric disabilities; women and employment; state and federal disability law; housing issues; and others! Sessions will be held 8:30am-4:30pm.  To register, or for more information, call 1.800.949.4232 or email us at dbtacnortheast@cornell.edu.

Rochester, NY. Worker Awarded $80,000 in EEOC Lawsuit:
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found in favor of a Delphi employee who was fired in 2006 because he did not allow the company to see his medical records when he returned to work from sick leave.  The worker allowed Delphi to call his doctor after missing several days of work, but stopped the company from getting information about his medical condition. The EEOC said it is a violation of the ADA for an employer to make such medical inquiries about employees. Besides the monetary award, a consent decree filed in district court also states that Delphi has to change its sick-leave policy.  To read more, go to : http://www.13wham.com/news/local/story/Rochester-Worker-Awarded-80K-in-EEOC-Suit-Against/ZPotaEFLVEqLcT13uzEQNw.cspx.

Starbucks and New York State (NYS) reach Settlement Agreement:
On May 13th the Civil Rights Bureau of the NY Attorney General's Office (OAG) and Starbucks reached a settlement agreement regarding accommodating employees and applicants with disabilities. The OAG initiated an investigation in response to complaints alleging that Starbucks failed to accommodate potential applicants with disabilities. As a result of the investigation, Starbucks has agreed to change its policies and procedures for accommodating employees and applicants with disabilities, revise its training program, designate a compliance coordinator, and collaborate with organizations to conduct targeted outreach to and recruitment of individuals with disabilities.

Poll Site Access Bill Passes New York Assembly:
The NY Assembly has passed legislations that would ensure poll site access; the Senate will vote on it next. The bill requires that every voting location in New York comply with the ADA.  "It has been nearly two decades since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, yet some polling sites in New York are still inaccessible to citizens with disabilities," said Assemblyman Kevin Cahill who drafted the bill. The legislation would create a clear standard that all polling locations must be accessible in accordance with the guidelines of the ADA and it would repeal an outdated waiver process that allows for the continued usage of sites that are not ADA compliant.  To read the complete article, go to:  http://www.catskillsnews.com/News/2009/May09/22/poll_acc-22May09.html.

 

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Job Accommodation Network (JAN) Produces New YouTube Video: 
JAN has created a new five minute, fully accessible YouTube video that provides colleagues, friends, and others the opportunity to "Step inside the JAN office, meet staff, and learn more about job accommodations".  The video can be accessed at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBbfVNcNlAg . Click on HD (on the play bar) for the high definition version if available. If you would like tips on how to make your YouTube accessible, visit: www.jan.wvu.edu/ENews/2009/Enews-V7-I2.htm#4

New Videos from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM):  
SHRM has posted short videos for Human Resources Managers on its website. They are intended to promote a better understanding of people with disabilities in the workplace.  Videos available for public viewing include:  "Disability Etiquette", "Affinity Groups", "The Loneliness of Disability", and "Tailored Accommodations".  These can be found at the following links respectively:  http://www2.shrm.org/video/07videos/101007kemp.asp, http://www.shrm.org/multimedia/video/vid_archive/Pages/090209_hanamura.aspx, and http://www2.shrm.org/video/08videos/030708young.asp.  

Staples Becomes More Accessible for People who are Blind:
Staples has signed an accessible web site and point of sale legal agreement stating it will improve its payment service terminals in thousands of stores with tactile keypads to protect the privacy and security of shoppers with visual impairments. The company will also make improvements to Staples.com that will benefit customers with visual impairments and other disabilities.  For the complete press release, go to:  http://lflegal.com/2009/04/staples-press/. For the entire settlement agreement, go to: http://lflegal.com/2009/04/staples-settlement-agreement/.

New Releases from the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP):
ODEP's June issue of "Business Sense" features an article, "Innovative Thinkers, Innovative Solutions" that discusses how many of today's hottest technologies were first developed for people with disabilities. You can access this article at:  http://www.dol.gov/odep/bsense/bsense0609.htm.  ODEP, in collaboration with its sister agency, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), has released a new report that illustrates ODEP's research into best practices in asset development and it's relationship to the ETA's Workforce Development System. "Creating a Roadmap out of Poverty for Americans with Disabilities" can be accessed at: http://www.dol.gov/odep/categories/workforce/current/index.htm.

ADA Notification Act of 2009 (H.R. 2397) Introduced: 
This bill would amend the enforcement section of Title III of the ADA by allowing covered entities (places of public accommodation) a chance to correct an alleged violation prior to the initiation of a plaintiff's lawsuit under the ADA or related state law. Before filing said complaint, a plaintiff would be required to provide the covered entity with written notice of the alleged violation and 90 days to remedy it before the complaint could be filed. This bill was introduced May 13th and has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.  To read more, go to: http://washlaborwire.com/2009/05/14/ada-notification-act-of-2009-hr-2397/

Latest Department of Justice (DOJ) Status Report on Enforcing the ADA: 
The new issue of "Enforcing the ADA, A Status Report" covering the DOJ's ADA settlement agreements, litigation, mediation, and technical assistance from July to December of 2008 is now available at: http://www.ada.gov/statrpt.htm

 

Opportunities for You!

Competition for Young Artists with Disabilities (Deadline June 19th!):
This program, sponsored by VSA Arts and Volkswagen, is open to artists between the ages of 16 and 25 who are living in the United States with a physical, cognitive, mental, or sensory disability. Submissions must be original work completed within the last three years and after the onset of disability.  Eligible media include, but are not limited to, paintings and drawings, fine art prints, photography, computer-generated prints, digital art, and time-based media (video, film). Work must have a visual component and both representational and abstract works are welcomed.  Three prizes will be awarded: 1st prize is $20,000, 2nd prize is $10,000, and 3rd prize is $6,000. Submission deadline is June 19th. For more information, go to: http://www.vsarts.org/PreBuilt/showcase/gallery/exhibits/vw/current/ or
contact Kay Pauquette at 518.359.2962.

Special Spotlight:  Sonia Sotomayor Nominated to the Supreme Court

On May 26th President Obama announced his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.  She must now be confirmed by the Senate and if she is, as is widely expected, Sotomayor would be both the first Hispanic to sit on the high court and the first Justice with Type 1 diabetes. The latter has definitely sparked some debate throughout the country.

As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sotomayor considered cases related to the ADA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Social Security and Medicaid programs.  Disability advocates are encouraged by the nomination saying that Sotomayor's past rulings have shown an understanding of disability and the rights of people with disabilities. "Based on our preliminary analysis of Judge Sotomayor's extensive record on the bench, we are encouraged that she may be the champion we have been looking for," said Andrew J. Imparato, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). "Her jurisprudence in the disability area shows that she ...sees the important connections between disability rights laws and other civil rights laws."

While many are happy about the nomination, there are some who question whether it is wise to appoint a Justice with a chronic condition such as diabetes given that it puts her at increased risk of serious medical conditions such as heart disease, nerve damage, kidney problems, and blindness as well as an increased risk of early death. Studies show that adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely than non-diabetics to die of heart disease however, according to doctors, when treated correctly, Type 1 diabetes patients are able to lead relatively healthy lives. Recent data suggest that patients can successfully manage the disease for 40-50 years with no serious health complications.  To read more about Sotomayor's nomination and the debate surrounding her medical condition, go to the following links:

Disability Scoop article:  http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2009/05/27/sotomayor-nomination/3444/

AAPD President and CEO Andy Imparato's comments:  http://aapd.com/CEOonSotomayor.html

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law press release:  http://aapd.com/sotomayorpress.html

American Diabetes Association press release:  http://aapd.com/ADAapplaudsPresident.html

NY Times article on Sotomayor's notable court opinions and articles:  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/05/26/us/0526-scotus.html

"Sotomayor's Diabetes: Will it be a Handicap?" from TIME.com:  http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1900962,00.html

"Diabetes: Is It An Issue For The Supreme Court?" from National Public Radio: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/05/diabetes-is-it-an-issue-for-the-supreme-court.html

"Judge Sotomayor's Diabetes: Not a Weakness But a Strength" from Nation.com: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat/438868/judge_sotomayor_s_diabetes_is_one_of_her_strengths

"Sotomayor Faces Employment Discrimination for her Disability " from NPR: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/05/sotomayor-faces-employment-discrimination-for-her-disability-.html

  

See you in a few weeks!!!