Articles Posted in Americans with Disabilities Act

Many people in this country unfortunately face discrimination at some point in their lives. There is discrimination in the workplace based on gender, disability, age, sexual orientation and more. However, most people expect to not be discriminated against about their own home. According to this case, a homeowner’s association discriminated against a family because they wanted to put in a therapeutic sun room where their two children, both of whom have Down syndrome could play and receive their physical therapy. If you or someone you care about has been discriminated against because of a disability or for any other reason, you should speak to our compassionate and knowledgeable disability discrimination lawyers with the Higgins Firm. We will work with you to make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to for what you have been through.

The former Chestnut Bend residents Charles and Melanie Hollis filed a federal lawsuit in 2012 alleging that, when the Hollises wanted to build a therapeutic sun room onto their house, “the Chestnut Bend Homeowners Association denied their request to construct it based on concerns about the way the addition would look.” According to the lawsuit, the family asked for permission to build the sun room in 2011 and then for a year went back and forth with the Homeowner’s Association’s architectural review committee which fought the family on planned materials and the design of the sun room. The lawsuit also states that, “Each time additional information was requested, the Hollises complied with the request and each time their plans were rejected and their application summarily denied.” Since the Homeowner’s Association kept denying their request, the Hollises had to sell their house at a loss and move out of Chestnut Bend altogether in order to give their children the in- home care they needed. The Chestnut Bend’s HOA website states that, “this 168 home community shares a variety of lifestyles from active seniors to families with young children to singles and professional couples. Chestnut Bend strives to include all residents while building a strong sense of community and stellar example of fantastic Franklin family life!” However, according to the lawsuit, the Chestnut Bend’s refusal to let them build a sun room discriminated against their family and also constituted a violation of the Fair Housing Act, which among other things makes it illegal for agencies to refuse “reasonable modifications” enabling disabled residents to live comfortably within their own homes.

The Chestnut Bend Homeowner’s Association paid $156,000 to settle the lawsuit but they do not admit to any wrongdoing. Mike Vaughn, current president of the Chestnut Bend HOA board stated that, “We have architectural standards that everybody in the neighborhood has to follow. We followed the rules.” He also said that the Hollises’ lawsuit and allegations of discriminatory practices harmed the other residents of the Chestnut Bend Homeowner’s Association. Finally, he stated that,”We took it personally because we’re a welcoming neighborhood. ”

In Tennessee as well as across the United States it is against the law to discriminate against an employee or potential employee because of age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Unfortunately however, many companies and businesses find ways around these laws and discriminate against these employees anyway. According to a recent Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) employment law case, Windell Rutherford started work with the city in 1998 and was promoted to lead lineman in 2002. He became disabled after an on-the job injury in June 2006. In December of 2006, Rutherford was told to return to work, but the city refused to return him to his job as lead lineman when he asked for accommodations that would have allowed him to do the job.

Rutherford claims that the electrical superintendant stated twice that he didn’t want him in his department. Once, he said it was because of Rutherford’s injury and disability. A second time he said it was because “all linemen are white.” Rutherford is black.

At First Rutherford was placed in a light duty position in the Public Works Department without a pay cut. He claims that e Public Works director and city administrator tried to force him to sign a form in April 2010 saying he would accept a demotion to Public Works clerk and a pay cut of more than fifty percent. The city had allowed a white lineman to stay on the job with medical restrictions. Rutherford accepted the demotion in lieu of being fired. He applied for a transfer to an open lineman position later that year, but the job was given to two less qualified, non-disabled white men, Rutherford alleged.

In May 2012, raises were proposed for Rutherford and three other employees. His raise was not approved because he had filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to the lawsuit. Rutherford sought to be reinstated to his lead lineman job and $22.50-per-hour salary or damages for future lost wages and benefits. He also sought other monetary damages.The city electrical department and Rutherford settled the case March 5, according to court records. Rutherford will be placed in an inventory clerk position. He will be reimbursed for his portion of mediation expenses, in addition to the $160,000.
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In Tennessee and all across the country, it is against the law to discriminate against an employee or customer on the basis of gender, race, disability, or sexual orientation. Unfortunately, however, our Tennessee Employment ADA and Discrimination Lawyers regularly find that companies to do just that either by not providing proper accommodations, pay, or fair treatment for each of their employees.

According to this class-action lawsuit, blind individuals claim that they were denied services by certain banks as the result of ATMs that are not accessible to the visually impaired. One of the plaintiffs, Robert Jahoda, has now filed 35 ADA ATM lawsuits in federal district court. All the claims quote a March 2012 Wall Street Journal article that states that nearly 50 percent of the more than 400,000 ATMs in the United States are inaccessible to the visually impaired, despite the fact that new standards pertaining to accessibility to ATMs for the visually impaired took effect on March 15, 2011, and all ATMs were required to be upgraded to meet these new requirements by March 15, 2012.

Some of the ADA ATM requirements include but are not limited to: machines shall be speech enabled, speech shall be delivered through a mechanism that is readily available to all users, including but not limited to, an industry standard connector or a telephone handset. Speech shall be recorded or digitized human, or synthesized. The requirements for input controls include: at least one tactilely discernible input control shall be provided for each function. Where provided, key surfaces not on active areas of display screens shall be raised above surrounding surfaces.

The requirements for numeric keypads and display screens include: numeric keys shall be arranged in a 12-key ascending or descending telephone keypad layout. The number five key shall be tactilely distinct from the other keys. The display screen shall be visible from a point located forty inches above the center of the clear floor space in front of the machine. Characters displayed on the screen shall be in a sans serif font. Characters shall be 3/16 inches high minimum, based on the uppercase letter “I.” Characters shall contrast with their background with either light characters on a dark background or dark characters on a light background. Finally, Braille instructions for initiating the speech mode shall be provided.
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In Tennessee as well as across the United States it is against the law to discriminate against an employee or potential employee because of age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Unfortunately however, many companies and businesses find ways around these laws and discriminate against these employees anyway. According to a recent case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Interstate Distributor Company, a trucking firm because the Commission claims that the Interstate company maintained a “no restrictions” leave policy in which employees on leave were automatically terminated after exhausting 12 weeks of leave unless they were able to return to full-duty work without limitation. The federal agency’s position in this lawsuit is that employers must make an individualized determination for each employee that has exhausted a leave of absence as to whether the employee can return to work with or without reasonable accommodation for a disability.

The Interstate Distributor trucking firm has agreed to pay $4.85 million in a settlement for their pattern and practice personnel policies which the EEOC alleged were in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA. The lawsuit is a reminder that those companies with outdated personnel policies could face a large amount of potential liability.
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A national hamburger chain with a big presence in Tennessee just settled a lawsuit for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The facts of the lawsuit involve a gentleman who was denied employment as a cook because he had a hearing disability. Apparently, he was told by the manager that “there is really no place for someone we cannot communicate with”. The manager made this decision without actually knowing whether the impairment would have any impact on the performance of the job or whether there was a reasonable accommodation that could be provided so this willing employee could be put to work.

The ADA prohibits employment discrimination against a qualified disabled individuals who can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations. Also, the definitions of “disability” under the ADA has recently been broadened with regard to who qualifies as being disabled under the act. The ADA applies to all employers with 15 or more employees.
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According to this case, an employee who worked for Family Video, a privately owned video game and movie rental company, claims that they were harassed due to a disability of major depression and social anxiety disorder. When the employee complained to the company about the harassment, he was terminated. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC filed a lawsuit against the company on March 1, 2012, claiming that the company was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA.

The EEOC and the Family Video to a three year consent order which means the company will pay the former employee $70,000 in monetary damages. The settlement also forbids the company from any more discrimination based on disability or any retaliation. Family Video will also have to hire an equal Employment Opportunity coordinator to help the company and its employees to understand about discrimination policies and to provide training to employees and investigate any complaints of discrimination.

According to the ADA a disability is defined as a “physical or mental impairment.” A mental impairment is defined by the ADA as “any mental or psychological disorder, such as… emotional or mental illness.” The ADA also states that in order for a condition to be considered an impairment or disability under the law it must “significantly limit one or more of a person’s major life activities.”

If you or someone you care about feel that you have been discriminated against at the workplace because of a disability, then it is important that you talk to a Tennessee employment ADA lawyer right away.
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According to this lawsuit, filed by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Dura Automotive Systems Inc for being in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the EEOC stated that the Dura Automotive Systems Inc. Company had all of their Lawrenceburg, Tennessee employees tested for twelve substances, five of which were controlled substances, and the others were legally prescribed medications, in May of 2007. The EEOC also claims that the Dura Company required all employees who tested positive for legally prescribed medications to disclose medical conditions that they had that required them to take the drugs and the company also made it a condition of employment that they stop taking the medication without evidence that the drugs were affecting their job performances. The Dura Company even suspended employees until they agreed to stop taking the medications and terminated employees who were unable to do their jobs without the medications. Dura also informed its whole workforce about the identities of those employees who had positive drug tests.

The Dura Company has agreed to pay$750,000 to settle the lawsuit. In addition to this, the company is prohibited from making medical inquires and from conducting medical exams which are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They are also prohibited from conducting drug tests that are not job related or necessary for the business.
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The Americas with Disability Act (ADA) protects employees from being discriminated against because of their disability. Unfortunately, these cases can be very difficult to prove because of the burden placed upon the employee at trial. This burden may be a little easier now following a recent 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling.

Recently, I was interviewed about this case and how it will impact Tennessee Employment Discrimination Claims. You can watch the interview below to learn more about the case.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7slg7jkD7I

In Tennessee as well as across the United States it is against the law to discriminate against an employee or potential employee because of age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Unfortunately however, many companies and businesses find ways around these laws and discriminate against these employees anyway. If you have a disability and where not hired or where discriminated against on the job because of your disability, then you need to talk to a Tennessee employment and ADA lawyer right away. They will hear your case and work with you to make sure that you get the compensation you deserve for what you have been through.

In this lawsuit, Service Temps refused to hire a female applicant for a stock clerk job after learning that she was hearing impaired. The applicant had explained using a sign-language interpreter that she was qualified for the position and had many years of store clerk experience; however, the company would not interview her or consider her for the position. A manager at the company even stated that the woman who not be hired because she could not hear.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit in district court claiming that the company was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act which prohibits disability discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees and applicants as long as there is no undue hardship. A pre-litigation settlement was not reached. In September of 2010, a jury made a decision that the company was in violation of the ADA. The woman received $ 103,200 and interest for lost wages, emotional harm and punitive damages. The EEOC also motioned for an injunction and the company was not allowed by law to discriminate against people with disabilities, people who are seen as disabled, or have a record of a disability.

A year from the award was given, an appeals court made a ruling that rejected all the company’s claims on the appeal. The higher court also rejected the company’s argument and cited that the EEOC’s presentation of evidence at the trial showed that the company’s manager who had the authority to hire was employed in a managerial capacity and was acting within the scope of his employment when he refused to allow the woman to apply for a job even when considering that his action was allegedly in violation of a company policy.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently upheld a jury’s verdict against Service Temps, Inc.
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The 6th Circuit Federal Court, which includes Tennessee, has finally departed from an unreasonably difficult burden placed upon workers asserting rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Historically, the law required the trial courts to instruct juries that an employee’s disability must be sole reason for his or her firing. In other words, if the jury believed an employee was fired because of a disability, but was also fired for another reason, the employee would lose. That is right. If the worker was fired because they lost a limb, but the employer also created another reason for the termination, there was no remedy for the disabled employee.

The 6th Circuit Federal Court, in the case of Lewis vs. Humboldt Acquisition Corporation, rightfully found that the burden on the employee to show that disability was the sole reason for being fired put an unfair burden on the employee because it gave the employer incredible leeway in creating “other valid reasons” for the firing. In this case, Susan Lewis filed a lawsuit against the Humboldt Acquisition Corporation in 2007 alleging that she was terminated for a medical condition that made it difficult for her to walk and required her to need a wheelchair. The Corporation alleged that Lewis was terminated due to a profanity based incident with her supervisors and not solely because of her disability. The Court instructed the jury to only rule in Lewis’ favor if her disability was the sole reason for her being terminated. The jury ruled in favor of the Corporation.

When Lewis appealed the decision, she argued that the court should have told the jury that her disability only had to one “motivating” factor, the same standard that is used for cases of discrimination based on race, religion, and gender. She reasoned that The Americans with Disabilities Act was brought about to expand protections beyond those protected classes to cover disability discrimination; therefore, Lewis claimed the same test, that the disability was a “motivating” factor and not simply the sole reason, should apply.

The 6th Circuit Court drew away from the “motivating” factor, but they settled on an intermediate test that would require employees to prove that they would not have been terminated if they did not have a disability. This same test is applied to age discrimination claims where an employee must be able to show that he would not have been terminated absent age discrimination.
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