Newsletter: October 05, 2009

Northeast ADA October 5, 2009 News Bulletin

What's New in Our Region:  

DBTAC-Northeast Funding Opportunity Available for Puerto Rico: 
The DBTAC-Northeast ADA Center is announcing the availability of a $30,000 per year sub-contract to an affiliate who will provide outreach, technical assistance, local support, and resources to businesses, employers, government entities, and individuals with disabilities in Puerto Rico for a period of up to 2 years (for a total of $60,000). All communication (written and verbal) with the DBTAC-Northeast ADA Center staff will occur in English, but the affiliate should also be fluent in Spanish to facilitate communication with stakeholders in Puerto Rico. This is a competitive Request for Proposals and one winning applicant will be selected. Deadline for submitting proposals is December 1, 2009. For more information, contact us at either 1.800.949.4232 or dbtacnortheast@cornell.edu.

DBTAC-Northeast Funding Opportunity Available for the U.S. Virgin Islands:
The DBTAC-Northeast ADA Center is announcing the availability of a $20,000 per year sub-contract to an affiliate who will provide outreach, technical assistance, local support, and resources to businesses, employers, government entities, and individuals with disabilities in the U.S. Virgin Islands for a period of up to 2 years (for a total of $40,000). This is a competitive Request for Proposals and one winning applicant will be selected. Deadline for submitting proposals is December 1, 2009. For more information, contact us at either 1.800.949.4232 or dbtacnortheast@cornell.edu.

Cornell University Awarded Major Grant from the Department of Labor (DOL): 
The DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has awarded a cooperative agreement to Cornell University's Employment and Disability Institute (EDI), home of the DBTAC-Northeast, to establish a national technical assistance center for employers on employment of people with disabilities. The purpose of the center will be to conduct innovative research, assist ODEP in developing demand-side policy, and share best practices with employers on the recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities. EDI will receive $1.6 million to lead a consortium, which will include the AFL-CIO Center for Green Jobs, the Altarum Institute, the Conference Board, the Institute of Educational Leadership, the National Business and Disability Council, Rutgers University, and the U.S. Business Leadership Network. To read the full press release, go to: http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/odep/ODEP20091196.htm

New York Governor Vetoes Disability Civil Rights Legislation:
Disability advocates have strongly objected Governor Paterson's vetoing of two critical pieces of civil rights legislature which had obtained overwhelming support from the state legislature. One bill would clarify civil rights protections for people with disabilities and the other would make polling places more accessible. Veto message summaries from the Governor cited significant financial burden and unavailable resources as reasons for the vetoes. Read more at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/09/ny-governor-with-disability-vetos-disability-civil-rights-protections.html.

ADA Lawsuit Must be Defended Despite Workers' Compensation Component:
An employee of Kohl's sued the discount retail store for being discharged from work due to a physical injury. While exclusivity provisions in workers' compensation laws prevent employees from suing employers for negligence in causing work-related injuries, the U.S. District Court in New York said that such regulations do not prevent employees from suing employers for disability discrimination under the ADA or related laws. Read more at: http://www.riskandinsurance.com/story.jsp?storyId=255628189.

 

What's New in the Rest of the Country:

EEOC Seeks Public Comments on Proposed ADA Regulations:
The EEOC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) revising its ADA Amendments Act regulations and is now open for public comment until November 23rd. The NPRM is posted at www.eeoc.gov, along with a question and answer guide about the proposal and how to submit comments. For those of you in our region, you may also submit comments to Larry Featherston at lwf27@cornell.edu. For the press release, go to:  http://www.eeoc.gov/ada/amendments_notice.html

Abercrombie & Fitch Fined for Failing to Modify Customer Fitting Room Policy:
Abercrombie & Fitch, a retail clothing company, was fined $115,264 by the Minnesota state Human Rights department when it refused to modify their "one-person-per-fitting room-policy" and allow a 14 year old customer with a disability to be accompanied in the dressing room by a family member. Read more at: http://www.startribune.com/local/60090427.html   

EEOC Reaches Biggest ADA Settlement Ever with Sears, Roebuck and Co.:
On September 29th the EEOC announced a record-setting consent decree resolving a class lawsuit against Sears under the ADA for $6.2 million and significant remedial relief. This represents the largest ADA settlement in a single lawsuit in EEOC history. The suit alleged that Sears violated the ADA when it maintained an inflexible workers' compensation leave exhaustion policy and terminated employees instead of providing them with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities. To read the full press release, go to: http://eeoc.gov/press/9-29-09.html  

Disability Leaders Meet With Attorney General Holder: 
Representatives from the disability community recently met with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss their priorities for the Department of Justice (DOJ). Topics of discussion included the enforcement priorities, access to justice issues, and the Attorney General's leadership role. Advocates stressed the importance of more consistency across the DOJ on disability rights issues, and suggested a senior level advisor be appointed to help ensure greater coordination around disability law and policy. Read more at: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/09/disability-leaders-meet-with-attorney-general.html.

National Council on Disability Releases Report Calling for Health Care Reform:
On September 30th the NCD released a report entitled "The Current State of Health Care for People with Disabilities".  The NCD undertook this study to focus the nation's attention on the health care disparities experienced by people with disabilities and to provide information and recommendations toward eliminating those barriers to health care. To read more, and to access the full report, go to: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/10/national-council-on-disability-calls-for-health-care-reform-for-people-with-disabilities.html. For the NCD's September Bulletin, go to: http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/bulletins/2009/b0909.htm.

September Employment Data Released:
For the first time in four months, unemployment dropped slightly in September.  According to the DOL, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities was 16.2 percent in September. The employment rate was 18.4 percent compared to 64.1 percent of people without disabilities. To access the statistics, go to: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsdisability.htm

 

Opportunities for You!

Participate in the National "What If Plan":
The "What If Plan" is an activity of the National ADA Symposium and the result of years of working with people throughout the country who are involved in implementing the principles of the ADA in their communities. This activity stems from the belief that government needs to hear recommendations from these very people in order to effectively plan the direction of ADA implementation for the next decade. This Plan consists of recommendations from prior ADA Symposium participants and you are now invited to contribute by providing comments on how the recommendations can be put into action. Comments will be periodically summarized and refined until a cohesive plan emerges, ideally in time for the 20th anniversary of the ADA next summer. To view the recommendations and find out how to offer comments, go to: http://www.whatifplan.org/HowtoParticipate.html.

Improving Access to Web-Based Education and Employment Processes:
The DBTAC-Northeast and the NYS Disability Services Council presents WebAIM, a leading provider of web accessibility services and training, on October 14th from 9:00am-4:30pm at SUNY Center for Professional Development in Syracuse, NY. "Web Accessibility: A Campus Wide Approach" will provide information on how and why universities should build accessible web sites. This training is recommended for college information technology staff, disability service providers, library staff, administrators, faculty, compliance officers, and web masters. Register either by contacting Barbara Sosna at 1.800.949.4232 or online at http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/register/dbtac-webiam.cfm.   

Audio Conference with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):
On Tuesday October 20th from 2:00-3:30pm EST, the National Network of ADA Centers will host Sharon Rennert, Senior Attorney with the EEOC, through an Audio Conference to discuss the proposed EEOC regulations. More information can be found at www.ada-audio.org or you can call 877-232-1990 (V/TTY).

 

Special Spotlight:  National Disability Employment Awareness Month!

Congress has designated October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This effort to educate America about issues related to disability and employment began in 1945 with "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week". Through the years, the week was expanded to a month and the name went through changes. The DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is charged with deciding the theme each year, and this year's is "Expectation + Opportunity = Full Participation".  Throughout this month, ODEP Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez will be spreading the message of NDEAM throughout the country. To keep up to date with the NDEAM happenings and celebrations, visit: http://www.dol.gov/odep/programs/ndeam.htm#top.  Read further for more NDEAM highlights and opportunities:

President Obama's Proclamation of Disability Employment Awareness Month: http://jfactivist.typepad.com/jfactivist/2009/10/white-house-announces-disability-employment-awarness-month.html

Leading Disability Organizations Launch National Campaign for Disability Employment- the "What Can YOU Do?" Initiative:

DOL Awards Cooperative Agreements to Improve Registered Apprenticeship Training for Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities: http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/odep/ODEP20091107.htm

 

 

 

See you in a few weeks!!!