Tag Archives: reasonable accommodations

Department of Justice Addresses Disability Discrimination in Housing

In recent proposed settlements in Wisconsin and Ohio, the U.S. Department of Justice targets disability discrimination against tenants by landlords.

Courtroom gavel on top of document.
The Fair Housing Act is one of many laws protecting people of all abilities. photo credit: My Trusty Gavel via photopin (license)

The Fair Housing Act establishes that housing should be accessible to people of all abilities.

According to a press release from the Department of Justice, a Wisconsin landlord and manager allegedly “discriminated against two residents of Applewood Apartments, a mother and daughter living together, and denied them rights by refusing to renew the residents’ lease because of their disabilities; demanding that they develop a ‘plan’ to deal with the daughter’s purported disability-related behavior (she is a person with Down Syndrome); and pressuring them to move.”

Discrimination, according to the press release, allegedly included not taking “prompt action to correct and end disability-related harassment by other tenants,” such as when other tenants made called the daughter “mentally retarded,” and stated “You don’t belong here. . . you belong in an institution,” as well as tenants interfering with their daily life on the premises.

Statue of woman holding scales representing weighing the sides of justice.
The U.S. Department of Justice ensures that Americans are treated fairly under the law. photo credit: Scales of Justice – Frankfurt Version via photopin (license)

According to the press release, terms of the settlement with the landlord are subject to U.S. District Court approval, and would include:

  • paying the complainants $40,000 in damages;
  • maintaining non-discrimination policies;
  • advertising themselves as equal opportunity housing provider; and
  • attending fair housing training.

Another case involves student housing at Kent State University in Ohio, according to a Department of Justice press release.

According to the release, the lawsuit alleges that Kent State University (KSU) “maintained a policy of not allowing students with psychological disabilities to keep emotional support animals in university-operated student housing.”

Picture of nine service animals with service animal vests.
Whether they are for physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities, the right to a service dog is in most cases guaranteed under the law. photo credit: Service Dogs of Hawaii Fi-Do, Training Session, Working Dogs, Job, Group Photo via photopin (license)

A settlement agreement between the department and university must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. If approved, KSU will:

  • pay $100,000 to two former students who allegedly were “denied a reasonable accommodation to keep an emotional support dog in their university-operated apartment;”
  • pay $30,000 to the fair housing organization that advocated on behalf of the students;
  • pay $15,000 to the United States; and
  • adopt a housing policy that allows people with psychological disabilities to “keep animals with them in university housing when such animals provide necessary therapeutic benefits to such students and allowing the animal would not fundamentally alter the nature of the housing.”

The university has also agreed to accommodate similar requests in the future, according to the release.

“This settlement shows the department’s continued and strong commitment to ensuring that students in university housing are afforded the protections of the Fair Housing Act,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, said in the release.

The settlement demonstrates that on-campus housing has to comply with the Fair Housing Act like other housing providers.

Individuals who believe that they have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov , or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 or through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs’ website .

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World ASL Poker Coming Soon to Austin

According to a post from the Deaf Network of Texas, the World ASL Series of Poker, or WASP, Tour #5 will be held in February in Austin, Texas.

Royal Flush poker hand with cards 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace.
photo credit: I Win via photopin (license)

The ASL poker series was developed to “bring renowned poker games to all deaf, hard of hearing, interpreters, and family members of deaf or hard of hearing adult poker players of all languages in different regions of America,” according to the series’ website.

The group was formed by Texas residents Jay Levine of San Antonio, Matt Erickson of Austin, and Dan Stoddard of Austin. Tournaments will be held at different casinos. 

There has been debate about whether people who use ASL can do so in poker games and at casinos, and when, if at all. This relates to industry rules that English only is accepted in poker, usually unless the dealer and all the players at the table use the same language. Notepads have also been in use.

Anyone wanting to play games at a casino who uses sign language should contact the casino ahead of time to learn what restrictions apply during play.

Here, you can read about an example of casino staff and a deaf advocate debating when the Americans with Disabilities Act applies and when it doesn’t in relation to poker.

WASP, however, invites a variety of abilities to play.

The event will be held Friday, Feb. 5 in Austin at the Austin Deaf Club, 8818 Cullen Lane, Austin, Texas 78748.

Admission for Friday night only or for Saturday night only is $10. Saturday full-day admission is $20. Early admission paid on Friday offers a discount of $25 for both days. Additional fees may apply, contact event coordinators or the flyer below for more information.

For more information, contact wasptour@gmail.com.

See the Tour Flyer.

 

 

EEOC sues McDonald’s for Discrimination against Applicant who is Deaf

While many people were Christmas shopping, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, filed a lawsuit for disability discrimination against McDonald’s.

According to a Disability.gov update, the EEOC has charged McDonald’s Corporation and McDonald’s Restaurants of Missouri with disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“An applicant who is deaf applied for a job at a McDonald’s in Belton, Missouri. When the restaurant learned that the applicant needed a sign language interpreter as a reasonable accommodation for his job interview, they allegedly canceled the interview and wouldn’t reschedule it,” according to the Disability.gov update.

Man speaks and sign language interpreter signs with hands what he's saying.
Sign language interpreters aren’t a want for employees who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing and request them, they are a need. While employees may not need interpreters for most tasks, if they request an interpreter, the request should be taken seriously.

How might McDonald’s management have broken the law?

According to the ADA, “Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits private employers, State and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including State and local governments.”

According to the EEOC’s press release, they filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s for violating federal “by refusing to accommodate and hire a deaf applicant…”

“When the Belton restaurant manager learned [the applicant] needed a sign language interpreter for his job interview, she canceled the interview and never rescheduled it, despite the [applicant’s] sister volunteering to act as the interpreter. Restaurant management continued to interview and hire new workers after [the applicant] made several attempts to schedule an interview,” according to the press release.

According to the press release, “EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief, including training for all McDonald’s managers on accommodations for applicants with disabilities, particularly those who are deaf.”

Disability symbol
“People with disabilities have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country,” EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran said.

“People with disabilities have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country,” EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran said in the press release. “Providing equal employment opportunities to all job applicants – including those with disabilities – is not just the law, it is good for our economy and our workplaces.”

According to a Disability.gov bulletin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a service for people who use American Sign Language (ASL). The Direct Video Access program helps people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing get information in ASL about employment discrimination issues, including filing discrimination complaints. Call 844-234-5122 from 7 a.m.- 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, to be connected to an EEOC representative who is fluent in ASL.