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Updated March 22, 2018

EEOC Sues Zachry Construction Corporation For Disability Discrimination

Contractor Used Medical Questionnaires and Exams to Weed Out Employees With Potential Medical Issues, Federal Agency Charges

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (2/21/18) - Zachry Construction Corporation, a San Antonio-based construction and industrial contractor, violated federal law when it fired several employees whose post-offer medical questionnaires and subsequent medical examinations revealed they had disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit. At the time of termination, all these employees were already performing their job duties in a satisfactory manner, the EEOC said.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, in June 2015, Reginald White applied for a Boilermaker I position at the Chevron refinery in Pascagoula, Miss. Around the time he was hired, Zachry required White to complete a medical questionnaire. On Aug. 25, a month after White began work, the company required White to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination. After a brief examination and review of White's medical information, the examining physician found White unable to perform his job duties, even though he had satisfactorily performed those duties for the past month. Zachry fired White the next day.

Similarly, Zachry terminated two other employees after it learned that they had disabilities, the EEOC said. On May 17, 2016, the company required Jasper Johnson to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination. During the examination, Zachry's physician learned of a past surgery and lingering neck pain. The company refused to allow Johnson to return to work and fired him.

Further, Zachry hired Parker Isaacson as a skilled laborer on July 6, 2015. Isaacson had undergone surgery on his right shoulder and had multiple right shoulder dislocations post-surgery. On April 4, 2016, the company required Isaacson to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination. During the examination, Zachry's physician learned of Isaacson's past surgery and multiple shoulder dislocations. The company refused to allow Isaacson to return to work and then terminated him.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees and job applicants from discrimination because of their disabilities. If an employee requires a reasonable accommodation, an employer must engage in a good-faith interactive process with the employee to determine if he or she can perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation.

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Zachry Construction Corporation, Case No. 1:18-cv-00058-HSO-JCG) on February 20, 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi after the EEOC's Birmingham District Office completed an investigation and first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

"If an employer has a concern about employee's ability to perform his or her job duties, it needs to conduct individualized assessments and not make decisions based on assumptions," said EEOC District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas.

EEOC Regional Attorney Marsha Rucker added, "Treating employees with disabilities fairly is not just common sense, it's federal law, and the EEOC is proud to enforce it."

According to the company's website, Zachry Construction Corporation specializes in large, technically unique projects around the world. Zachry maintains offices in Texas, North Carolina, Colorado and California.

Updated October 18, 2017

Survey on Assistance Animals

The Southwest ADA Center is carrying out research into the use of service animals and other assistance animals by people with disabilities in public settings. As part of this research, we are asking people, age 18 and up, who use these animals across the country to fill in the attached survey.

The information gathered from it will help us 1) understand what access issues people are having with their animals; and 2) to develop and improve the information, support, and guidance needed for the community to improve access for users of assistance animals. These findings will also improve the trainings and technical assistance that the Southwest ADA Center can provide to the public on this topic.

Whether you use a service animal or other type of assistance animal, we would like to hear from you.

Assistance Animal Survey

Updated August 14, 2017

UPS to Pay $2 Million to Resolve Nationwide EEOC Disability Discrimination Claims

Shipping Giant's Rigid Leave Policies Forced Out Employees Who Needed Accommodations, Federal Agency Charged

CHICAGO - International shipping giant United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) has agreed to pay $2 million to nearly 90 current and former UPS employees to resolve a nationwide disability discrimination lawsuit filed in 2009 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as well as to conciliate related administrative charges, the agency announced today.

The EEOC charged that UPS violated federal law failing to provide UPS employees with disabilities reasonable accommodations that would enable them to perform their job duties. The EEOC further alleged that UPS maintained an inflexible leave policy, whereby the company fired disabled employees automatically when they reached 12 months of leave, without engaging in the interactive process required by law.

Such alleged conduct violates Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Case No. 09-cv-5291) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to providing $2 million in monetary relief, UPS has also agreed to update its policies on reasonable accommodation, improve its implementation of those policies, and conduct training for those who administer the company's disability accommodation processes. Furthermore, the company has agreed to provide the EEOC periodic reports on the status of every accommodation request for the next three years to ensure the efficacy of its procedures.

"The ADA requires companies to make a real effort to work individually with their employees with disabilities to provide them with the necessary and reasonable accommodations that will allow them to do their jobs," said Greg Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC's Chicago District Office. "As a result of this lawsuit, UPS now has practices in place to better ensure that this happens."

Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's Chicago District director, added, "Having a multiple-month leave policy alone does not guarantee compliance with the ADA. Such a policy must also include the flexibility to work with employees with disabilities who may simply require a reasonable accommodation to return to work. UPS has now made changes which will allow more people to keep their jobs."

According to company information, Atlanta-based UPS has over 434,000 employees and had revenues of $61 billion in 2016.

Updated March 27, 2017

Access Board Issues Guidance on the International Symbol of Accessibility

The Access Board has released guidance on the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) to address questions that have arisen on the use of alternative symbols. Some cities and states have adopted a different symbol that was created to be more dynamic and suggestive of movement. The Board’s guidance explains how use of a symbol other than the ISA impacts compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Standards issued under the ADA require that the ISA label certain accessible elements, spaces, and vehicles, including parking spaces, entrances, restrooms, and rail cars. Similar requirements are contained in standards issued under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) for federally funded facilities. The ISA, which is maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), has served as a world-wide accessibility icon for almost 50 years.

“Consistency in the use of universal symbols is important, especially for persons with limited vision or cognitive disabilities,” states Marsha Mazz, Director of the Board’s Office of Technical and Information Services. “In addition to the ADA and ABA Standards, many codes and regulations in the U.S. and abroad also require display of the ISA.”

While the ADA Standards do not recognize specific substitutes for the ISA, they do generally allow alternatives to prescribed requirements that provide substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability under a provision known as “equivalent facilitation.” However, in the event of a legal challenge, the entity pursuing an alternative has the burden of proof in demonstrating equivalent facilitation. Under the ABA Standards, use of a symbol other than the ISA requires issuance of a modification or waiver by the appropriate standard-setting agency.

“The Board understands the interest out there to revisit the ISA but strongly recommends that such efforts be directed to the ISO to ensure consensus in adoption and uniformity in implementation,” says Mazz.

The ISA bulletin is posted on the Board’s website along with other issued guidance on the ADA Standards and the ABA Standards. For further information, contact Dave Yanchulis, yanchulis@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0026 (v), or (202) 272-0027 (TTY).

Updated February 27, 2017

L-3 Communications Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Senior Engineer Forced to Resign Despite Being Released to Return from Medical Leave, Federal Agency Charged

DALLAS - L-3 Communications, a large defense contractor with facilities in Texas, violated federal law when it refused to allow a senior manufacturing engineer to return to work following leave related to depression and subsequently forced him to resign because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on February 23, 2017.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the engineer worked successfully for L-3 Communications after being hired in 2008. In late 2014, he suffered two major depressive episodes at work and went on medical leave. After receiving treatment, he was returned to work with a full release from his physician, but L-3 Communications insisted that he submit to a fitness-for-duty exam before returning to his position. The psychologist who conducted the exam then indicated that he could safely resume work with accommodations such as additional training and feedback, and recommended that the best long-term outcome would be to return him to a different position. The engineer also asked whether there was a reasonable accommodation that the company could provide that would allow him to return to work. The company failed to consider or provide any reasonable accommodation, and instead gave him the ultimatum that he would either need to resign or be fired.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for known disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. L-3 Communications, Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-00538-N), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the victim, as well as injunctive relief.

" Despite being cleared by both his treating physician and the psychologist who administered the fitness-for-duty exam, L-3 refused to let the Charging Party return to work and forced him to resign," said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Meaghan L. Shepard. "This constitutes disability discrimination in violation of federal law."

One of the six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan is for the Commission to address emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving hiring barriers and the ADA.

" L-3 Communications forced the Charging Party out rather than returning him to a position where he could continue to be successful and productive for the company," said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino. "Now his skills and assets will benefit other employers whose leave and accommodation policies do not deny him the opportunity to contribute to their success, and L-3 has been sued for disability discrimination. This is a lose-lose situation for them."

Updated December 13, 2016

EEOC Issues Publication on the Rights of Job Applicants and Employees with Mental Health Conditions

User-Friendly Document Explains Workplace Protections Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a resource document that explains workplace rights for individuals with mental health conditions under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

Depression, PTSD, & Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace: Your Legal Rights explains that job applicants and employees with mental health conditions are protected from employment discrimination and harassment based on their conditions. They may also have a right to reasonable accommodations at work. Reasonable accommodations are work adjustments that can help individuals to perform their jobs and remain employed. The resource document also answers questions about how to get an accommodation, describes some types of accommodations, and addresses restrictions on employer access to medical information, confidentiality, and the role of the EEOC in enforcing the rights of people with disabilities.

EEOC charge data shows that charges of discrimination based on mental health conditions are on the rise. During fiscal year 2016, preliminary data shows that EEOC resolved almost 5,000 charges of discrimination based on mental health conditions, obtaining approximately $20 million for individuals with mental health conditions who were unlawfully denied employment and reasonable accommodations.

"Many people with common mental health conditions have important protections under the ADA," said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. "Employers, job applicants, and employees should know that mental health conditions are no different than physical health conditions under the law. In our recent outreach to veterans who have returned home with service-connected disabilities, we have seen the need to raise awareness about these issues. This resource document aims to clarify the protections that the ADA affords employees."

The resource document is part of an ongoing series of publications providing individuals with medical conditions or work restrictions with user-friendly explanations of their rights, and with information that they can give to a health care provider to explain how to provide appropriate medical documentation, if required. Earlier this year EEOC published resource documents addressing the employment rights of individuals with HIV infection and individuals who are pregnant. The new publication has a companion document, The Mental Health Provider's Role in a Client's Request for a Reasonable Accommodation at Work.

Updated November 22, 2016

Justice Department Revises Regulations to Require Closed Movie Captioning and Audio Description for People with Disabilities

The Justice Department today announced an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III regulation to further clarify a public accommodation’s obligation to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services for people with disabilities. The final rule provides that public accommodations that own, operate or lease movie theaters are required to provide closed movie captioning and audio description whenever showing a digital movie that is produced, distributed or otherwise made available with these features.

Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services, where necessary, to ensure effective communication with people with disabilities, and the department has long held the position that captioning and audio description are auxiliary aids required by the ADA. Despite this obligation and the widespread availability of movies with these features, the department received numerous reports from the disability community indicating that neither closed movie captioning nor audio description is universally available at movie theaters across the United States.

The department initiated this rulemaking on June 10, 2010, with the publication of its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) and then published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Aug. 1, 2014. In total, the department received over 1,500 comments on the ANPRM and the NPRM, including a comment on the NPRM that was jointly submitted by advocacy groups representing individuals with hearing disabilities and the movie theater industry. The department intends to publish the final rule in the Federal Register in the near future, and the rule will take effect 45 days after publication.

“ The disability community and movie theater industry provided comprehensive insight on this important regulation,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department’s regulation establishes a nationally consistent standard and ensures that, in theaters across the country, people with hearing and vision disabilities can fully enjoy watching movies with their families and friends.”

The final rule requires movie theaters to have available and maintain the equipment necessary to provide closed movie captioning and audio description so that it is delivered to a movie patron’s seat and available only to that patron. Movie theaters are also required to notify the public about the availability of these features and have staff available to assist movie patrons with the equipment.

The requirements of this rule do not apply to any movie theater that shows analog movies exclusively. Additionally, the compliance limitations under Title III of the ADA apply to this rulemaking, and thus, the rule makes clear that movie theaters do not have to comply with the rule’s requirements if compliance would result in an undue burden or a fundamental alteration.

For more information about this rule or the ADA, please visit the department’s ADA website or call the ADA Information Line (1-800-514-0301, 1-800-514-3083, TTY). Once the final rule is published in the Federal Register, a copy will be available on the Federal Register’s website.

Final Rule Movie Captioning

Updated July 26, 2016

Mayor Turner Sends Condolences on the Passing of the City’s Disability Champion

My condolences go out to the family of Jay Stiteley, a national disabilities advocate, who passed away over the weekend after a short illness. He served since 2014 as the manager of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods. A true champion for the city will be missed.

Stiteley served as the City’s primary advocate for the disability community, working closely with city officials, the Houston Commission on Disabilities and partner agencies to ensure the delivery of essential services, including legal clinics, financial empowerment workshops, tax preparation assistance and job and health fairs. Stiteley introduced “disability etiquette” workshops for local professionals who serve people with disabilities, stressing appropriate interaction and the importance of treating people with dignity and respect.

His most recent efforts focused on a voter registration drive sponsored in partnership with the Houston Center for Independent Living as part of the Rev Up! Make the Disability Vote Count national campaign. This spring, he collaborated with community partners to present employment and workforce training workshops and a job fair for veterans and people with disabilities. In February, he led the City’s participation in the annual ReelAbilities: Houston Film & Art Festival. Last October, he directed the City’s commemoration of the landmark 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Other major annual events he directed include Disability Awareness Month celebrated in October, White Cane Safety Day at City Hall and the Mayor’s Disability Advocate of the Year Awards.

A native of Plainfield, Illinois, Stiteley brought more than 30 years of professional experience in the field of services to individuals who are blind and visually impaired. Stiteley’s advocacy work included service on the Federal Communications Commission Consumer Advisory Committee, Verizon’s Customer Advisory Board and Delta’s Advisory Board for Disabilities.

Jay Stiteley leaves behind his wife Karen, his four-legged companion, Nelson, and a host of family, friends and coworkers. Please keep his family in your prayers. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Accessible Parking Public Hearing

The Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities is seeking public comment on parking for persons with disabilities as part of a legislative study on accessible parking laws, standards, and policies. The study includes requirements for parking for persons with disabilities in both rural and urban areas of Texas and state-owned parking lots, including on the grounds of the State Capitol. Testimony may be given in person or submitted in writing. Written comments must be received by 4:00 p.m. on August 10, 2016 and sent to GCPD@gov.texas.gov or mailed to GCPD PO Box 12428, Austin, TX 78711.

Hearing Date and Location
Wednesday, August 10th, 2016, 1PM – 4PM Texas Capitol Extension, Room E1.016 1400 N. Congress, Austin, Texas

Share the Public Hearing Flyer with Your Networks
Please share this hearing notice with your business and social media contacts. Stakeholders can download and print the Accessible Public Hearing Flyer on the GCPD website.

For questions contact the GCPD staff at (512) 463-5739 (use the relay service of your choice).

Updated May 17, 2016

EEOC Issues Final Rules on Employer Wellness Programs

Rules Address Incentives; Protect Confidentiality

WASHINGTON, DC (May 16, 2016) --The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued final rules that describe how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) apply to wellness programs offered by employers that request health information from employees and their spouses. The two rules provide guidance to both employers and employees about how workplace wellness programs can comply with the ADA and GINA consistent with provisions governing wellness programs in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended by the Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act).

The rules permit wellness programs to operate consistent with their stated purpose of improving employee health, while including protections for employees against discrimination. The rules are available in the Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/17/2016-11558/regulations-under-the-americans-with-disabilities-act and https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/17/2016-11557/genetic-information-nondiscrimination-act. EEOC also published question-and-answer documents on both rules today, available at https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/qanda-ada-wellness-final-rule.cfm and https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/qanda-gina-wellness-final-rule.cfm, and two documents for small businesses https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/facts-ada-wellness-final-rule.cfm and https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/facts-gina-wellness-final-rule.cfm.

Many employers offer workplace wellness programs intended to encourage healthier lifestyles or prevent disease. These programs sometimes use medical questionnaires or health risk assessments and biometric screenings to determine an employee's health risk factors, such as body weight and cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure levels. Some of these programs offer financial and other incentives for employees to participate or to achieve certain health outcomes.

The ADA and GINA generally prohibit employers from obtaining and using information about employees' own health conditions or about the health conditions of their family members, including spouses. Both laws, however, allow employers to ask health-related questions and conduct medical examinations, such as biometric screenings to determine risk factors, if the employer is providing health or genetic services as part of a voluntary wellness program. Last year, EEOC issued proposed rules that addressed whether offering an incentive for employees or their family members to provide health information as part of a wellness program would render the program involuntary.

The final ADA rule provides that wellness programs that are part of a group health plan and that ask questions about employees' health or include medical examinations may offer incentives of up to 30 percent of the total cost of self-only coverage. The final GINA rule provides that the value of the maximum incentive attributable to a spouse's participation may not exceed 30 percent of the total cost of self-only coverage, the same incentive allowed for the employee. No incentives are allowed in exchange for the current or past health status information of employees' children or in exchange for specified genetic information (such as family medical history or the results of genetic tests) of an employee, an employee's spouse, and an employee's children.

The final rules, which will go into effect in 2017, apply to all workplace wellness programs, including those in which employees or their family members may participate without also enrolling in a particular health plan.

" The EEOC received comments on both rules from a broad array of stakeholders and considered them carefully in developing this final rule," said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. "The Commission worked to harmonize HIPAA's goal of allowing incentives to encourage participation in wellness programs with ADA and GINA provisions that require that participation in certain types of wellness programs is voluntary. These rules make clear that the ADA and GINA provide important safeguards to employees to protect against discrimination."

Program Design

Both rules also seek to ensure that wellness programs actually promote good health and are not just used to collect or sell sensitive medical information about employees and family members or to impermissibly shift health insurance costs to them. The ADA and GINA rules require wellness programs to be reasonably designed to promote health and prevent disease.

Protecting Confidentiality

The two rules also make clear that the ADA and GINA provide important protections for safeguarding health information. The ADA and GINA rules state that information from wellness programs may be disclosed to employers only in aggregate terms.

The ADA rule requires that employers give participating employees a notice that tells them what information will be collected as part of the wellness program, with whom it will be shared and for what purpose, the limits on disclosure and the way information will be kept confidential. GINA includes statutory notice and consent provisions for health and genetic services provided to employees and their family members.

Both rules prohibit employers from requiring employees or their family members to agree to the sale, exchange, transfer, or other disclosure of their health information to participate in a wellness program or to receive an incentive.

The interpretive guidance published along with the final ADA rule and the preamble to the GINA final rule identify some best practices for ensuring confidentiality, such as adopting and communicating clear policies, training employees who handle confidential information, encrypting health information, and providing prompt notification of employees and their family members if breaches occur.

Updated May 13, 2016

EEOC Sues Mobile Destination For Disability Discrimination

Mobile Phone Retailer's Management Withdrew Job Offer to Salesman Because He Uses a Wheelchair, Federal Agency Charges

HOUSTON (May 12, 2016)- Mobile Destination, Inc., a mobile phone retailer which operates 30 Verizon Wireless stores in Texas, unlawfully revoked a worker's job offer because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to EEOC's suit, around October 2013, Morgan Davis applied for a retail sales position at the Verizon Wireless store in Porter, Texas. Around Nov. 7, Mobile Destination's district manager and its recruiter interviewed several applicants, including Davis, and after the interviews they extended a job offer to Davis.

The following week, Davis completed and passed his pre-employment background check and drug test. The district manager wanted Davis to start work the week of Thanksgiving 2013. The district manager learned, however, that Mobile Destination's vice president, who worked in the company's headquarters in Nacogdoches, Texas, would not approve the hiring of Davis because he uses a wheelchair.

The district manager advised the vice president that Davis did not appear to have any problems moving around the store in his wheelchair during his job interview. She nevertheless insisted that Davis was not going to be hired, EEOC said. The Mobile Destination corporate office instructed lower management not to answer Davis's calls, and that if Davis came to the store to inquire about his employment, he should be told that the company had "promoted from within."

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits job discrimination against individuals with disabilities. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (Civil Action No. 4:16-cv-01334) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The federal agency is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from engaging in disability discrimination in the future. EEOC is also seeking back pay for Davis, and compensatory and punitive damages and other relief on his behalf, including rightful-place instatement to a suitable position at one of Mobile Destination's stores.

" As in this case, when a worker has a disability but is qualified to perform a job, an employer's unfounded fears and biases are not valid excuses to deny equal employment opportunities," said EEOC Houston District Director Rayford O. Irvin.

EEOC Houston Regional Attorney Jim Sacher said, "This lawsuit will send a message to employers that EEOC will vigorously enforce federal law by prosecuting companies which deny equal opportunity to qualified workers with disabilities."

Mobile Destination, Inc. is a "Verizon Wireless Premium Retailer," according to the webpage http://www.mobiledestination.com/. The company "operate[s] full service Verizon Wireless stores," and has "30 locations throughout Texas and growing."

Updated May 11, 2016

Public Comments Requested by the Department of Justice on Web Accessibility

The Department of Justice (Department) is considering revising the regulation implementing title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA or Act) in order to establish specific technical requirements to make accessible the services, programs, or activities State and local governments offer to the public via the Web. In 2010, the Department issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (2010 ANPRM) titled Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities and Public Accommodations. The purpose of this Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SANPRM) is to solicit additional public comment specifically regarding the regulation implementing title II, which applies to State and local government entities. Specifically, the Department is issuing this SANPRM in order to solicit public comment on various issues relating to the potential application of such technical requirements to the Web sites of title II entities and to obtain information for preparing a regulatory impact analysis.

Updated May 9, 2016

EEOC Issues New Resource Document Addressing Issues Related to Leave and Disability

WASHINGTON (May 9, 2016) - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today issued a new resource document that addresses the rights of employees with disabilities who seek leave as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The document is entitled Employer-Provided Leave and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Disability charges filed with the EEOC reached a new high in fiscal year 2015, increasing over 6 percent from the previous year. The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations that allow people with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their jobs, unless it would pose an undue hardship for the employer.

One troubling trend the EEOC has identified in ADA charges is the prevalence of employer policies that deny or unlawfully restrict the use of leave as a reasonable accommodation. These policies often serve as systemic barriers to the employment of workers with disabilities. They may cause many workers to be terminated who otherwise could have returned to work after obtaining needed leave without undue hardship to the employer. EEOC regulations already provide that reasonable accommodations may include leave, potentially including unpaid leave that exceeds a company's normal leave allowances.

This resource is intended to help educate employers and employees about workplace leave under the ADA to prevent discriminatory denials of leave from occurring. It responds to common questions employers and employees have raised about leave requests that concern an employee's disability. The document creates no new agency policy, but it is one in a series of EEOC Resource Documents that explains how existing EEOC policies and guidance apply to specific situations. It consolidates existing guidance on ADA and leave into one place, addressing issues that arise frequently regarding leave as a reasonable accommodation, including the interactive process, maximum leave policies, "100 percent healed" policies, and reassignment. It also provides numerous examples that illustrate existing legal requirements and obligations for both employees and employers.

" Providing employees with a period of leave for medical treatment or recovery can be a critical reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities," said EEOC Chair Jenny Yang. "This resource document explains to employers and employees in a clear and practical way how to approach requests for leave as a reasonable accommodation so that employees can manage their health and employers can meet their business needs."

Employer-Provided Leave and the Americans with Disabilities Act also addresses undue hardship issues, including the amount and/or length of leave required, the frequency of leave, the predictability of intermittent leave, and the impact on the employer's operations and its ability to serve customers and clients in a timely manner.

" I'm pleased that the Commission has created a user-friendly resource document regarding this often complicated area of law," said Commissioner Chai Feldblum.

" I believe it will be helpful to both employers and employees," Commissioner Victoria Lipnic added. "Leave issues often present some of the toughest situations for employers and employees to deal with in our workplaces. This document provides needed one-stop guidance on how the EEOC approaches many of the common issues we see."

Murphy Oil Sued By EEOC for Disability Discrimination and Retaliation

Gas Station Convenience Store Chain Unlawfully Refused Accommodation for Worker With a Back Impairment and Then Fired Him, Federal Agency Charges

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (May 5, 2016) - Murphy Oil Corporation, which operates Murphy USA retail gasoline stores typically located in Walmart parking lots in over 20 states, violated federal law by firing a store manager because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to EEOC's lawsuit, Murphy USA fired the employee of 10 years instead of pro­viding a reasonable work accommodation as recommended by his doctors for his back impairment. EEOC's suit also claims that the company fired the employee as retaliation immediately after complaining to manage­ment about the failure to accommodate his medical restrictions.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation unless it would cause a significant expense or difficulty to the employer. Retaliation against an employee for raising or reporting discrimination to supervisors also violates the ADA. The ADA also protects individuals from coercion, intimidation, threat, harassment, or interference in their exercise of their own rights or their encouragement of someone else's exercise of rights granted by the ADA.

" EEOC is committed to vigorously enforcing the ADA and its retaliation provisions," said David Rivela, EEOC senior trial attorney in EEOC's San Antonio Field Office. "Where efforts to secure voluntary compliance are not successful, we will not hesitate to sue to protect people who assert their rights under the law by reporting discrimination."

EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Del Rio Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Murphy Oil Corporation, Civil Action No. 2:16-cv-00048) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the victim, as well as injunctive relief.

" When employees with disabilities are qualified and seeking to continue to work with some degree of medical restriction, employers have a legal duty to consider requests for reasonable accom­modation," said Eduardo Juarez, supervisory trial attorney for EEOC's San Antonio Field Office. "Firing an employee with a disability simply because an employer does not want to make an accommodation violates the federal law, and EEOC is here to enforce that law."

Updated May 6, 2016

Justice Department Reaches $475,000 Settlement With Beaumont, Texas, to Resolve Disability Discrimination in Housing Lawsuit

May 4, 2016 - The Justice Department today announced that the city of Beaumont, Texas, has agreed to pay $475,000 and change its zoning and land use practices to resolve a lawsuit alleging that it discriminated against persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities who sought to live in small group homes in the city’s residential neighborhoods. The consent decree must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

The lawsuit, filed on May 26, 2015, alleged that the city violated the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act when it imposed a one-half mile spacing rule that prohibited many small group homes from operating in Beaumont. The suit further sought to prohibit the city from imposing fire code requirements that exceeded those imposed by the state of Texas as part of its certification and funding of such homes. These restrictions prohibited numerous persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities from living in Beaumont and resulted in the institutionalization in a nursing home of a woman who was forced to move out of her home. Although the city alleged that its restrictions were justified by a Texas statute, the state of Texas later clarified in a statement it submitted to the court during the litigation that neither the spacing requirement nor the heightened fire code requirements were required by Texas law.

Under the terms of the consent decree, the city will allow small group homes to operate in any residential district and will not subject such homes to fire code requirements that exceed the state’s requirements for certification of such homes. The city will also pay $435,000 in monetary damages to 11 individuals with disabilities, their family members and companion care providers who were subject to the city’s discriminatory code enforcement practices. The city will also pay $15,000 to the United States as a civil penalty and $25,000 to Disability Rights Texas, the organization that represents the individuals who filed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) complaints and intervened in the United States’ lawsuit. Beaumont will take other remedial measures, including implementing a comprehensive reasonable accommodation policy, requiring its officials to attend fair housing training and appointing a fair housing compliance officer.

“Persons with disabilities have the same right to live in and enjoy their communities as all other families do throughout our nation,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to eliminate discriminatory barriers that impede these individuals from doing so.”

“I applaud the parties for reaching this common-sense, fair agreement,” said U.S. Attorney John M. Bales of the Eastern District of Texas. “Beaumont is a great city in which to live and the prior restrictions now being set aside were inconsistent with that greatness. Now everyone can reside where they wish in an environment that is best for their lives.”

“Group homes provide a critical source of housing for persons with disabilities and their availability shouldn’t be limited by discriminatory practices,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today’s settlement reaffirms HUD and the Justice Department’s commitment to ensuring that jurisdictions meet their obligation to adhere to the nation’s fair housing laws.”

The lawsuit arose as a result of complaints filed with HUD by persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities whose homes were closed and were threatened with closure under the city’s challenged housing restrictions. After conducting an investigation, HUD referred the matter to the Justice Department. The individuals who had filed complaints with HUD later intervened in the United States’ lawsuit. Today’s settlement resolves their lawsuit as well.

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Persons who believe that they have experienced unlawful housing discrimination may contact the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743 or by e-mail at fairhousing@usdoj.gov.

Beaumont Consent Decree

Updated April 28, 2016

EEOC Sues Halliburton For Breach of Mediation Agreement

Company Failed to Honor Agreement to Hire Applicant to Resolve Disability Discrimination Charge, Federal Agency Says

JACKSON, Miss. (April 13, 2016) - Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. and Boots & Coots, LLC, an oil and gas exploration services company with headquarters in Houston, violated federal law by failing to comply with obligations imposed by a mediated settlement agreement of an employment discrimination charge, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on March 31.

According to EEOC's suit, Halliburton entered into a mediation settlement agreement with EEOC and the applicant on Feb. 4, 2014, resolving a disability discrimination charge against the company. Among other relief provided, Halliburton promised to rehire the applicant into a position subject to successful employment screening. Despite the applicant's compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement, Halliburton has since failed to hire him for any position. EEOC contends that Halliburton's actions constitute breach of the settlement agreement. Further, such alleged conduct violates Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

EEOC's suit (EEOC v. Halliburton Energy Service, Inc. and Boots & Coots, LLC d/b/a/ Boots and Coots Services, Civil Action No. 3:16-cv-00233-CWR-FKB, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi) seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay plus interest, compensatory damages, and an injunction against future discrimination.

" Typically, court intervention is not necessary when parties reach a voluntary agreement," said EEOC Birmingham Regional Attorney, C. Emanuel Smith. "This litigation follows numerous efforts at voluntary compliance."

EEOC Jackson Area Office Director Wilma Scott added, "When an employer refuses to honor the promises it made in a voluntary settlement agreement, EEOC will take action to enforce that agreement."

According to company information, Halliburton owns hundreds of subsidiaries, affiliates, branches, brands and divisions throughout the United States and worldwide, employing approximately 70,000 people. Halliburton provides oil and gas exploration services and related services, both onshore and offshore. Additionally, Halliburton provides oil and hazardous material spill containment resulting from oil well fire emergencies, and provides restoration services to return oil and gas wells to production.

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.

Bank of America Settles EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Deaf Employee Was Denied a Sign Language Interpreter, Federal Agency Charged

LAS VEGAS (April 6, 2016) -Bank of America, N.A. will pay $30,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to EEOC's suit, Bank of America unlawfully denied a reasonable accommodation to a more than 12-year, deaf employee, who worked at a Bank of America vault location in Las Vegas. Rather than communicate with the employee using a sign language interpreter, the employee's managers and supervisors used other ineffective communication methods, such as writing notes, which were not understandable to him.
Discriminating against an employee or job applicant due to their disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in September 2013 (EEOC v. Bank of America Corporation, et al., Case No. 2:13-cv-01754-GMN-VCF) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

In addition to monetary relief, Bank of America also agreed to injunctive relief to ensure a dedicated accommodations team properly engages in the interactive process and effectively provides reasonable accommodations to deaf employees. Bank of America agreed to train its accommodations team on the requirements of the ADA as it pertains to deaf employees. The company also agreed that its training would address issues involving the specific communication needs of deaf employees on the job and that each deaf employee will have different communication abilities and methods available to them.

" Employers must be mindful of the diversity that exists in the deaf community in order to ensure deaf employees are properly accommodated," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District. "Rather than take a 'one-size-fits-all' approach, employers need to ensure individualized accommodations are explored and implemented to respond to the specific needs of the requesting employee."

Richard Burgamy, local director for EEOC's Las Vegas Local Office, said, "We continue to see employers fail to properly engage in the interactive process. We encourage employers to provide all employees with disabilities appropriate reasonable accommodations to ensure they enjoy the equal employment opportunities to which they are entitled."

EEOC Launches Online Charge Status System

Agency Continues To Expand Digital Services

WASHINGTON (March 23, 2016) - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the launch of key services that improve service to the public. EEOC's services now include: 1) providing individuals who have filed a charge of discrimination the ability to check the status of their charge online, and 2) providing a portal for businesses to receive and upload documents and communicate with EEOC.

" We are pleased to announce the launch of online access to charge status information," said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. "This service provides immediate benefits to the public by allowing access to charge information online and on demand. Moving forward, EEOC will continue to use technology to streamline the charge system and improve the way we serve the public."

The new Online Charge Status System allows individuals who have filed charges of discrimination with EEOC to track the progress of their charge. The system provides up-to-date status on individual charges as well as an overview of the steps that charges follow from intake to resolution. Additionally, the system provides contact information for EEOC staff assigned to the charge.

With the new system, charging parties can access information about their charge at their convenience, while allowing EEOC staff to focus on investigating charges. Companies or other entities that have charges of employment discrimination filed against them also can access the system and receive the same information on the status of the charge.

The Online Charge Status System is available for charges filed on or after September 2, 2015. It is not available for charges filed prior to this date or for charges filed with EEOC's state and local Fair Employment Practices Agencies. The system can be accessed at http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge_status.cfm or by selecting the "Check the Status of a Charge" button on www.eeoc.gov.

Additionally, all EEOC offices now use a Digital Charge System, in which employers transmit and receive documents regarding discrimination charges through a secure online portal. Originally piloted last summer, the Digital Charge System provides for faster transmittal of documents, as well as notifications to the employer and EEOC staff to improve communication with EEOC.

EEOC receives over 150,000 inquiries from individuals with questions about workplace discrimination and approximately 90,000 charges per year, making its charge system the agency's most common interaction with the public. EEOC's Digital Charge System aims to improve service to the public, ease the administrative burden on staff, and reduce the use of paper submissions and files. Private and public employers, unions and employment agencies will use the Digital Charge System, instead of transmitting paper documents.

For federal sector complaints of discrimination, EEOC launched an online system called the Federal Sector EEO Portal (FedSEP) for federal agencies on October 1, 2015 to upload hearing and appeals documents.

EEOC will offer assistance through its toll-free number at 1-800-669-4000 (TTY: 1-800-669-6820 or ASL Video Phone 1-844-234-5122) for those who do not have Internet access to retrieve the information provided in the Online Charge Status System or who need language assistance in one of the 150 languages for which we offer translations services.

Justice Department and City of Fort Worth, Texas, Settle Lawsuit Alleging Disability Discrimination

The Justice Department announced today that the city of Fort Worth, Texas, has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that Fort Worth discriminated against persons with disabilities when it refused to allow a group home for individuals recovering from drug and alcohol addiction to operate in a single family residential zone in the city.

The lawsuit, filed in April 2015, alleged that the city violated the Fair Housing Act when it issued multiple citations and fines against a four bedroom group home, known as Ebby’s place, in which residents who have successfully completed at least a 30-day drug or alcohol treatment program live together to reinforce and encourage their mutual commitment to recovery. After receiving the citations, Ebby’s Place requested a zoning variance that would allow it to operate, which the city council unanimously denied.

Under the terms of the agreement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth will allow Ebby’s Place to operate with up to seven residents and will rescind all the citations it had previously issued against the home. Fort Worth will also pay $135,000 to Ebby’s Place in monetary damages and $10,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. As a part of the settlement, Fort Worth also adopted an ordinance establishing a process whereby persons may seek reasonable accommodations from the city’s zoning or land use laws and practices, where such accommodations may be necessary to afford persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their housing.

The lawsuit arose as a result of a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by Ben Patterson, who through Ebby’s Place LLC, owns and operates the group home. After conducting an investigation, HUD referred the matter to the Department of Justice. Ebby’s Place later intervened in the Justice Department’s lawsuit. Today’s agreement would also settle the lawsuit filed by Ebby’s Place.

“ The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act protect individuals with disabilities from housing discrimination, including discriminatory zoning practices,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We commend the city of Fort Worth for working with the Justice Department to reach an agreement that will safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities in our communities.”

“ The city of Fort Worth has cooperated in this investigation from the beginning,” said U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas. “There was never any doubt in my mind that the city leaders would work with the Department of Justice to achieve the right result, and they’ve done just that.”

Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. Visit www.usdoj.gov/crt for more information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces. Additional information about the Fair Housing Act is available at www.HUD.gov. Additional information about the Americans with Disabilities Act is available at www.ADA.gov.

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with a Texas YMCA to Ensure Equal Opportunities for Children with Diabetes

February 24, 2016 - The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement today with the Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA, a local Texas affiliate of the YMCA, to resolve allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying a child the opportunity to participate in a summer day camp program because of his diabetes. YMCA refused to provide daily insulin injections to the child, which left him unable to attend the summer day camp program.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by private camps and child care programs. Under the ADA, such entities must make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices or procedures when necessary to provide equal access to a child with a disability, unless a modification would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods and services. Absent a showing of fundamental alteration, where a parent and a child’s physician determine that it is appropriate for a non-nurse to assist a child with diabetes care, allowing a trained layperson to do so is a reasonable modification under the ADA.

“ After-school and camp programs provide a critical place for all children to socialize with their friends and learn from their peers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to aggressively fight all forms of discrimination that seek to deny children with disabilities the protections the ADA guarantees and the opportunities they deserve.”

Under the terms of the two-year agreement, the YMCA will designate an ADA compliance officer who will be responsible for monitoring compliance with the terms of the agreement. The ADA compliance officer will also be responsible for ensuring that the YMCA updates its application materials and implements the policies and procedures required by the agreement, including a non-discrimination policy. The YMCA will designate an individual at each branch who is authorized to receive and review requests for reasonable modifications; inform parents and guardians about how to request reasonable modifications; and train its staff on the ADA, including information on diabetes management. The ADA compliance officer will also review all denials of reasonable modification requests and any decision to exclude a child with a disability from enrollment.

The YMCA will also pay $10,000 to the family to compensate them for the denial of an opportunity to participate in the YMCA program. The department will actively monitor the YMCA’s compliance with terms of the agreement.

One of the largest childcare providers of school-aged children in the region, the Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA serves the Arlington and Mansfield communities near Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas. Nearly 900 children participate in the local YMCA’s before and after-school programs and nearly 450 children participate in its summer camp program.

ADA enforcement is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Those interested in finding out more about this settlement or the obligations of camps and child care programs under the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov. ADA complaints may be filed online at http://www.ada.gov/complaint/.

Greyhound Lines to Resolve Americans with Disabilities Violations

February 8, 2016 - Under the terms of a consent decree filed by the Justice Department today, Greyhound Lines Inc., the nation’s largest provider of intercity bus transportation, will implement a series of systemic reforms to resolve allegations that it repeatedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Greyhound will pay $300,000 in compensation to certain passengers with disabilities identified by the department and will retain a claims administrator to compensate an uncapped number of additional passengers who have experienced disability discrimination.

The consent decree, pending approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, resolves the department’s complaint that Greyhound engaged in a nationwide pattern or practice of violating the ADA by failing to provide full and equal transportation services to passengers with disabilities. The alleged violations include failing to maintain accessibility features on its bus fleet such as lifts and securement devices, failing to provide passengers with disabilities assistance boarding and exiting buses at rest stops; and failing to allow customers traveling in wheelchairs to complete their reservations online.

“ The ADA guarantees people with disabilities equal access to transportation services so that they can travel freely and enjoy autonomy,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Today’s agreement marks a major step toward fulfilling the promise of the ADA, and we applaud Greyhound for entering the consent decree.”

“ We are fully committed to ensuring equal access to all opportunities society has to offer, including transportation services,” said U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III of the District of Delaware.

Under the terms of the agreement, Greyhound – which serves more than 3,800 destinations and more than 18 million passengers each year across North America – will compensate several classes of passengers who faced barriers because of their disabilities. Through a claims administrator, Greyhound will compensate individuals who experienced barriers based on disability during the three years prior to today’s filing. There is no cap on the number of individuals who may submit claims or on the total amount to be disbursed by Greyhound through this process. In addition, Greyhound will be required to pay a total of $300,000 among specific individuals identified by the department who experienced ADA violations. Greyhound will also pay a civil penalty to the United States in the amount of $75,000.

In addition, the agreement mandates that Greyhound implement a series of systemic reforms, including the following:
hire an ADA Compliance Manager;

  • require all employees and contractors who may interact with the public to attend annual in-person training on the ADA;
  • provide technical training to all employees and contractors on the proper operation of accessibility features of Greyhound’s fleet;
  • report every three months to the department on its compliance efforts; and
  • ensure that persons with disabilities can make reservations for travel, and lodge disability-related requests, through its online booking system.

Individuals who experienced disability-related discrimination while traveling or attempting to travel on Greyhound buses during the previous three years may be eligible to receive a monetary award. The claims administrator for the fund will be posted on Greyhound’s website, and on the department’s Disability Rights Section’s website at www.ada.gov following entry of the consent decree by the court. Questions about making claims should be directed to the claims administrator.

Greyhound Consent Decree