First the complaint, then the money, now the public accolade: as we noted last month, student Kendra Velzen filed a complaint — and got a $40,000 settlement — after administrators at Grand Valley State University in Michigan declined to allow her emotional-support guinea pig to live with her in the dorm, even though she had a doctor’s note for it. Now the “Fair Housing Center of West Michigan has given … Velzen its annual Outstanding Effort by an Individual award. The group says Velzen was honored for promoting ‘equal housing opportunity for university students throughout the country.’” The center has a previous connection with the case, having assisted Velzen in her complaint. [AP/WILX]
Kendra Velzen had a note from a doctor prescribing the companionship of the rodent, but Grand Valley State University outside Grand Rapids, Mich. nonetheless resisted her request to keep the guinea pig with her at class, in the dorm, and in food service areas. Now school administrators have folded. [Eric Owens, Daily Caller](& Greenfield)
Between 2006 and 2011 the Iowa Civil Rights Commission engaged in a practice of filing housing discrimination charges against landlords, which it would then settle through “donations” that went directly to the commission rather than the state’s general fund, reports Jason Clayworth at the Des Moines Register. “The requests came after sting operations in which representatives of the commission would, for example, pose as prospective tenants and tell landlords over the phone that they needed a service dog for anxiety reasons and quiz them as to whether a pet deposit would apply to them.”
In Connecticut, disability vs. disability: “A cab driver who claims he suffers from cynophobia (a fear of dogs) and who refused to pick up a blind customer with a service dog has filed a federal lawsuit against his employer for discrimination on account of his disability after he was fired.” [Daniel Schwartz]
“A former city worker is suing Indianapolis after she claims the city failed to accommodate the service dog she needs due to her severe allergy to paprika.” The city had already removed certain foods from its vending machines but declined to accept a service dog as reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because a co-worker was allergic to dogs. [WRTV]
In 2005 Jack and Sandra Biegel purchased a unit in Long Island’s Woodbury Gardens, which had a no-pet policy. The next year they acquired a miniature schnauzer to assist with Sandra’s multiple ailments, which included depression and strained breathing. She died the next year. Now the federal government is taking Jack’s side against the co-op in its effort to enforce its rules. [NY Daily News]
A judge has ruled that an elderly Manhattan woman can sue her landlord and a guide-dog provider over a fall she suffered on a step at her building. Gloria Clark argues that her earlier guide dogs had always guided her around a dangerous step over 26 years of living in the building but that while she was auditioning a new guide dog the dog’s trainer did not properly take care against the hazard. [New York Daily News]
The Justice Department has sued the University of Nebraska-Kearney and its regents and employees for allegedly “denying reasonable accommodation requests by students with psychological or emotional disabilities seeking to live with emotional assistance animals in university housing.” [Disability Law]
More/update: Inside Higher Ed.
“City officials in Denver and in the neighboring suburb of Aurora are being sued over their enforcement of dog breed bans. The suit claims the bans violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.” [Arin Greenwood, ABA Journal]
I’ve got a new post up at Cato at Liberty on the politics of not-really-deregulation under the ADA, as new federal rules take effect on service animals. Earlier here, etc.
I’ve got an op-ed in today’s New York Post. It begins:
For the service goat, assistance monkey and emotional-support iguana, it could be the end of an era. Under new federal rules taking effect Tuesday, the Americans with Disabilities Act will no longer compel shops, restaurants and other businesses to accommodate a menagerie of supposed service animals brought in by the public. Only dogs and some miniature horses will qualify. Moreover, dogs will qualify as service animals only if they’ve been individually trained to assist with a disabled human’s needs.
“The provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this new definition.” And they’ll need to be on-leash unless their work requires otherwise.
Finally. You’d think the Obama administration had, in a fit of common sense, for once chosen to heed a public outcry about zany regulations-gone-mad.
But as usual, the politics are more complicated than that. …
Read the whole thing here. Relatedly, Kevin at Lowering the Bar has some free advice for persons with service monkeys, namely that their allegations of service-animal status are more likely to win favor if they don’t dress up four of the little guys in pirate costumes on Bourbon St. in New Orleans’ French Quarter. And from Olympia, Wash.’s KPTV: “Man with service snake lobbies against bill.”
“A Chicago area teen claims in a lawsuit that her high school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it barred her from playing basketball with the help of her service dog.” The president of Special Olympics Illinois, which sponsors the team that turned down Jenny Youngwith’s request, “said the group has to make decisions based on the safety of all the athletes.” [ABA Journal]
They’ve resulted in a Connecticut man’s being banned from a grocery store, and now an ADA lawsuit looms [New Haven Register]
The city of Indianapolis let an employee bring her allergy service dog to the workplace, only to discover that a co-worker was allergic to dogs. [NYTimes] More: Hyman.
The couple who used to own Granary Natural Foods in Carleton Place, Ont. acknowledge that they had earlier objected to what they said was sniffing of food by the psychiatric-service dog. But they said the reason they threw the dog’s owner out of the store this time was that he was “yelling and swearing, demanding service”. [CBC]