I joined Bay Area public radio host Marty Nemko (KALW) on Sunday for a discussion of the pluses and minuses of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and specifically as it applies to the workplace. I focused on the minuses, while disability rights attorney Claudia Center emphasized the pluses. You can listen here.
In August we linked a case in which a woman sued her government employer for rejecting her request to telecommute even though it would help to accommodate what she said was her sensitivity to the perfumes worn by co-workers. The court at that time declined to dismiss her claim as invalid as a matter of law; now, however, it has dismissed it because she failed to produce necessary evidence. [Jon Hyman, earlier]
The opening target, in what is expected to become a series, is Rosa Mexicano. “The restaurant is the first ‘most popular’ Zagat pick to be sued for ADA non-compliance after the U.S. Attorney’s office launched an initiative targeting the guide’s 50 most beloved eateries last year.” [NY Observer]
Settling a prospect of litigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act:
Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK), one of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors, today announced that it is providing an audio description option for people who are blind or have visual impairments in all of its first-run theatres. …
In audio description (also known as descriptive narration) a narrator provides vocal description of key visual aspects of a movie, such as descriptions of scenery, facial expressions, costumes, action settings, and scene changes, described audibly during natural pauses in dialogue or critical sound elements.
[Lainey Feingold via Sam Bagenstos, Disability Law]
Snags for the D.C. subway system [Washington Post via @andrewmgrossman]
The first shipment of the new [SmarTrip card] machines did not have the audio and Braille features required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But Metro thought it could roll out the machines and add the audio and Braille a couple of months later. When disability advocates raised concerns, Metro realized that going forward would violate the ADA, and the transit agency halted the rollout.
So nearly three weeks after every station was to have its own SmarTrip card dispenser, riders at nearly half of the stations in the Metrorail system are out of luck if they need to buy a card.
Riders who stay with paper Farecards are charged an extra dollar a trip.
The U.S. Department of Justice has sued the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association, saying that it is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because it refuses to administer a medication for the relief of grand mal seizures. Two students wish to participate in the program who have a potential need of the medication on an emergency basis. “The medication, Diastat AcuDial, comes in a pre-filled syringe with a plastic tip and must be administered through a person’s rectum.” [Daily Herald]
Following a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Sacramento library system has agreed not to give patrons any more Nook e-readers, which cannot be used by blind persons because they lack text-to-speech capability [Disability Law] Disability-rights lawyers have taken the view that it is unacceptable for libraries to stock a mix of devices, some with text-to-speech and some not.
An Ohio federal court decision, in the case of a woman complaining of sensitivity to the perfumes worn by co-workers, may herald a new dawn of ADA telecommuting rights. I explain at Cato at Liberty.
A “federal lawsuit filed Wednesday on the 12-year-old’s behalf alleged that the Girl Scouts abruptly disbanded Megan [Runnion's] Schaumburg troop early this year in retaliation for her mother’s efforts to keep the 100-year-old organization paying for the interpreter.” [Chicago Tribune]
President Obama, along with a number of Senators and longtime ADA advocates, have urged rapid Senate ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, hailed in some quarters as an “international ADA”. Sen. Jim DeMint and other senators have objected to the super-fast-track proposed ratification schedule, arguing that the measure might affect the rights of homeschooling families caring for disabled children and that, in general, opponents deserve a right to be heard. If Senators take a closer look at the ambitious views of the treaty held by various disabled-rights and international-law advocates — one advocate says it could revolutionize the legal rights of the mentally ill, for example — they might find further reasons for caution. [hearing]
“If an employer fails to take employee temperature complaints seriously, that employer may be opening the company up to a discrimination claim,” premised on lack of disability accommodation. “It is also important that employers are clear about regulation of workplace temperature because employees may have a tendency to adjust the temperature to their own personal preference, disregarding the comfort of others if thermostats are openly accessible. To remedy this employers should prevent open access to thermostats and have designated individuals who are allowed to adjust the temperature.” [Bacon Wilson law firm]
P.S. James Fulford: “Thermostat conflict between secretarial staff in summer dresses and lawyers in three-piece suits is common in law firms.”
“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reached a $49,500 settlement with a construction company and utility company for withdrawing a job offer to a heavy equipment operator with epilepsy.” [Judy Greenwald, Business Insurance, earlier] In other news: “Just under two weeks after suffering a seizure that led to two car accidents within minutes of each other, Commerce Secretary John Bryson has submitted his resignation.” [NPR]
But of course. [Ryan Young, CEI]
Pay up, EEOC tells a cafe owner, for not taking on a hearing- and speech-impaired applicant for a cashier’s position [EEOC press release (Albuquerque's Savory Fare Bakery and Cafe agrees to pay $20,000 and offer other relief), h/t Roger Clegg; related on cases where concern about cross-intelligibility between employee and customers leads to charges of "accent discrimination"] (& Bader, CEI; Scott Greenfield)
More: Alexander Cohen at Atlas has the complaint and answer, along with further analysis.
File under intended and expected effects of Congressional action: the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 reversed various court decisions that had limited the number of claimants who could invoke the Americans with Disabilities Act. [Luke Rosiak, Washington Times] More here, etc.
Averting a Memorial Day shutdown of many public and hotel/motel pools, the Obama Department of Justice has again delayed its pending ADA lift rules. I explain at a new post at Cato.