Newsletter: September 04, 2009

Northeast ADA Sept. 4, 2009 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:

DOJ Reaches Settlement Agreements with two New York Hotels: 
On September 1st the Department of Justice (DOJ) released settlement agreements with two hotels in New York, both of which are owned and operated by Emstar, LLC. These agreements can be accessed at: http://www.ada.gov/new.htm.

Empire State Association of the Deaf (ESAD) Statewide Conference: 
The ESAD Statewide Conference, entitled "Advocacy Today, Success Tomorrow", will be held October 1-3, 2009 at the Holiday Inn Express in downtown Albany, NY. Registration fee ranges from $50-$60 and includes ESAD membership renewal and participation in receptions, meetings, workshops, and informational tables occurring throughout the three days. To access the registration form in either PDF or Word, go to: www.esad.org


What's New in the Rest of the Country:

Civil and Disability Rights Champion Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy Passes: 
Senator Ted Kennedy passed away August 25th from brain cancer. Andrew Imparato, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) said, "AAPD joins our colleagues throughout the civil rights movement in mourning the loss of one our most effective champions...His legacy will be felt for generations to come, as millions of Americans with disabilities and our families recommit ourselves to his vision of equality and full citizenship for all people."  For more on the disability community's reaction to Kennedy's passing, go to: http://aapd.com/Communications/PassingofEdwardKennedy.html.

U.S. State Department Settles out of Court on HIV Discrimination Case: 
A U.S. Army veteran settled out of court after he was denied a job because he is HIV-positive. The State Department, which contracts with Triple Canopy Inc. who denied employment to the man, has agreed to policy changes that will prevent people with HIV from being automatically barred from working under department contracts in the future. The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2008, claimed that the Rehabilitation Act and ADA were violated when a Triple Canopy director told the employee that he could not be employed because the State Department would not send workers with HIV overseas. Read the full article at:  http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid107402.asp.

Federal Employees' Leave Extended to Care for Wounded Servicemembers: 
On August 28th it was reported that Federal employees can take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave from their job to provide physical or emotional care for a next of kin servicemember injured in combat, under new rules outlined by the White House.  Office of Personnel Management officials said the rules are technically still being reviewed, but federal agencies have already begun following them based on changes made to the Family and Medical Leave Act earlier this year. These rules will also apply to troops who contract a potentially life-threatening disease while serving on active duty but does not apply to private employers or active-duty military personnel. The 26 weeks guideline does not affect sick or vacation time an employee wishes to use, but the unpaid leave can be used only once per injury. Read more at: http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=64417

Update on H1N1 Flu and the Disability Community: 
On August 25th, the Obama Administration and disability leaders discussed the H1N1 virus and specific concerns for the disability community. Among the concerns mentioned were how the direct care workforce needs to be vaccinated to ensure continuity of care or personal assistance for people with disabilities, Independent Living Centers and how they should develop plans to minimize delays, and the more at-risk groups such as people with muscular, metabolic, or pulmonary conditions. The vaccine will become available in mid-October and officials cited the website www.flu.gov as being a good source of information. For the full article, go to: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/08/aapd-focus-on-h1n1.html.

Senator Durbin Speaks on ADA, Disability Employment, and Disability Rights: 
On August 13th, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois spoke at Illinois Wesleyan University on "Employees with Disabilities: An Untapped Resource".  He also described the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act which he, and 16 other Senators including Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, introduced that would increase vocational opportunities for people on the autism spectrum. To read the full speech, go to:  http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/08/senator-durbin-speaks-on-ada-disability-employment-and-disability-rights-as-civil-rights.html.

Latest ASL Disability Law Lowdown Podcast Covers Air Carrier Access Act: 
The Disability Law Lowdown, provided by the DBTAC National Network of ADA Centers to give the latest information about disability rights and obligations under the ADA, just posted a new podcast in American Sign Language on the Rights and Responsibilities under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) with a special focus on how the new ACAA regulations affect air travel for this population. Subscription is free and the podcast is available on You Tube and at:  www.DisabilityLawLowdown.com.

GM Mobility Offering Reimbursement for Adaptive Mobility Equipment: 
GM Mobility offers up to $1,000 reimbursement for eligible adaptive mobility equipment, the protection and convenience of extended OnStar service, and other resources to make auto travel easier and more accessible for people with disabilities. To learn more about this offer and eligibility requirements, go to: http://www.gm.com/vehicles/services/gm_mobility/.

New Accessibility Feature on Diversityinc.com: 
DiversityInc, in partnership with eSSENTIAL Accessibility, is making their online content more accessible to people with visual, dexterity, and reading limitations. By clicking on the icon at the top right-hand corner of DiversityInc's homepage, users are redirected to www.essentialaccessibility.com, where they can easily download free assistive technology software and install it on any standard personal computer.  While eSSENTIAL Accessibility is popular with retailers,  DiversityInc.com is the only media site to offer this service. To read more, go to:  http://www.diversityinc.com/public/6095.cfm.

Newest Releases from the Department of Justice: 
The DOJ Civil Rights Division released the newest "Disability Rights Online", a bi-monthly update about their disability rights enforcement activities. Issues addressed include polling place accessibility, disability discrimination in housing, and accessible housing: http://www.ada.gov/newsltr0709.htm.  DOJ also released "Enforcing the ADA: A Status Report" for January-March 2009 which covers consent decrees and formal settlement agreements that occurred during this quarter: http://www.ada.gov/statrpt.htm.

U.S. Access Board July/August Access Currents News Released: 
This edition includes information on the Board's draft of guidelines for federal outdoor sites, new research on the effects of cross slope on wheelchair travel, and a web-based screen reader under development. To access, go to: http://www.access-board.gov/news/Access%20Currents/July-Aug09.htm#outdoor#outdoor.

National Council on Disability (NCD) August Bulletin Released: 
This month's bulletin features information on NCD's recommendations for sweeping emergency management changes, the National Summit on Disability Policy 2010, and NCD Web site enhancement. To access the bulletin, go to:  http://news.prnewswire.com/DisplayReleaseContent.aspx?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/08-19-2009/0005080107&EDATE.

 

Opportunities for You!

Independent Living-focused Teleconferences will be held in September: 
CIL-NET will be presenting two teleconferences: "The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities & What it Means to Independent Living", on September 16th, and "Veterans and Returning Veterans: An Update on New Collaborations", on September 24th. Both are 3:00-4:30pm EST and free of charge except for regular long distance fees. To participate, call the APRIL Bridgeline number at 218.339.2699, pin code: 922899 (no cell phones please). Materials will be available at www.april-rural.org September 14th.  For questions, contact Kathy Hatch, Training and Assistance, at 864.670.9283 or kathatch@charter.net.

Perspectives on Employment of Persons with Disabilities Conference: 
The 28th Annual Perspectives on Employment of Persons with Disabilities Conference, the source for information and insight on disability employment issues in the federal government, will be held December 9-11th in Maryland.  Participants will learn the latest about personnel policies and practices, legal issues, technology developments, and be able to network with colleagues. Federal human resources and equal employment opportunity specialists, hiring managers, and others who manage employment matters are invited to attend. Registration fee is $450, before September 30th, $475 after that date, and deadline is December 1st. To learn more, go to: http://www.graduateschool.edu/Conferences/Perspectives/index.php.

Apply to Attend the National Council on Disability (NCD) Summit: 
Hosted by the NCD, the National Summit on Disability Policy 2010 will commemorate the ADA's 20th Anniversary through a series of working meetings to help shape disability policy and programs related to employment, education, civil rights, healthcare, housing and transportation. The NCD is inviting people with disabilities, individuals representing grassroots organizations, and others to apply to attend. Application deadline is October 15, 2009. For more information and to access the application, go to:  http://www.neweditions.net/ncd2010/eventinfo.html.

Special Spotlight:  EEOC Lawsuits

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws that prohibit job discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability. They also provide oversight and coordination of all related federal regulations, practices, and policies. The EEOC enforces the ADA Title I: Employment and investigates certain discrimination complaints that are filed by employees with disabilities. You can access a complete listing of EEOC press releases regarding discrimination suits at:  http://www.eeoc.gov/press/.  Below are some recent disability-specific suits:

Hospital Must Pay $70,000 for Firing Nurse with Diabetic Seizures and Illegal Medical Inquiries:  http://www.eeoc.gov/press/9-2-09.html

UPS Sued for Not Extending Medical Leave as Reasonable Accommodation:  http://eeoc.gov/press/8-28-09.html

Funeral Chapel Sued for Firing Secretary who now needs a Wheelchair:  http://www.eeoc.gov/press/8-27-09.html

Airline Clerk with Arthritis Fired:  http://www.eeoc.gov/press/8-26-09c.html

Sonic Franchisee Ordered to Pay $22,000 for Firing Employee with Epilepsy:  http://www.eeoc.gov/press/8-26-09d.html

Target Sued for Failing to Reasonably Accommodate Employee with Intellectual Disability and Cerebral Palsy:  http://www.eeoc.gov/press/8-24-09.html

Manager with Bipolar Disorder Fired:  http://www.eeoc.gov/press/8-20-09b.html

 

See you in a few weeks!!!