Tag Archives: disability discrimination

While Far from a Knockout, the Southern District of New York Strikes a Blow for Businesses Facing Website Accessibility Lawsuits

It is no secret that businesses have long been awaiting a court decision that would help stem the surging tide of website accessibility cases – over a thousand of which have been filed in the Southern District of New York over the last two years.  While the S.D.N.Y.’s recent decision dismissing a website accessibility complaint in Himelda Diaz v. Apple, Inc., 18-cv-07550 (LAP) (S.D.N.Y. March 28, 2019) may not have gone as far as businesses would have hoped, it is nonetheless an important victory.  Ideally, by requiring greater effort from the plaintiff’s bar to successfully maintain a website accessibility lawsuit, perhaps the court will finally see a reduction in the number of such claims being filed every week.

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Guidance on Employers’ Obligations Under the New York City’s Disability Discrimination Laws Issued

Our colleagues at Epstein Becker Green has a post on the Retail Labor and Employment Law blog that will be of interest to our readers in the health care industry: “NYC Commission on Human Rights Issues Guidance on Employers’ Obligations Under the City’s Disability Discrimination Laws.”

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NYC Commission on Human Rights Issues Guidance on Employers’ Obligations Under the City’s Disability Discrimination Laws

The New York City Commission on Human Rights (“Commission”) recently issued a 146-page guide titled “Legal Enforcement Guidance on Discrimination on the Basis of Disability” (“Guidance”) to educate employers and other covered entities on their responsibilities to job applicants and employees with respect to both preventing disability discrimination and accommodating disabilities. The New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) defines “disability discrimination” more broadly than does state or federal disability law, and the Guidance is useful in understanding how the Commission will be interpreting and enforcing the law.

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Welcome WCAG 2.1 – Website Accessibility Guidelines Have Been Refreshed

Our colleague  at Epstein Becker Green has a post on the Hospitality Labor and Employment Law blog that will be of interest to our readers in the financial services industry: “The Generally Prevailing Website Accessibility Guidelines Have Been Refreshed – It’s Time to Officially Welcome WCAG 2.1.”

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The Generally Prevailing Website Accessibility Guidelines Have Been Refreshed – It’s Time to Officially Welcome WCAG 2.1

After nearly ten years, on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, the World Wide Web Consortium (the “W3C”), the private organization focused on enhancing online user experiences, published the long awaited update to its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (“WCAG 2.0”), known as the WCAG 2.1.  Those who have been following along with website accessibility’s ever-evolving legal landscape are well aware that, despite not having been formally adopted by regulators for the vast majority of the private sector, compliance with WCAG 2.0 at Levels A and AA has become the de facto baseline for government regulators, courts, advocacy groups, and private plaintiffs when discussing what it means to have an accessible website.

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New York Court of Appeals Narrowly Construes New York City Human Rights Law

In Makinen v. City of New York, New York’s Court of Appeals held the New York City Human Rights Law precludes an individual from bringing a claim of disability discrimination based on a mistaken perception of untreated alcoholism.

The question arose in a case brought by police officers against the City of New York and certain individuals alleging discrimination based on the mistaken perception that the plaintiffs were alcoholics. The plaintiffs had been referred to an internal counseling service and directed to undergo treatment even though neither plaintiff had been diagnosed as suffering from alcoholism. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in federal court under New York State and City Human Rights Laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The district court held individuals regarded as untreated alcoholics could state a claim under the City Human Rights law because analogous claims were available under state and federal law.  On appeal, the Second Circuit certified the following question to the Court of Appeals: “Whether sections 8-102(16)(c) and 8-107(1)(a) of the New York City Administrative Code preclude a plaintiff from bringing a disability discrimination claim based solely on a perception of untreated alcoholism?”

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NYC OATH Decision Finds for Medical Marijuana User

As we have previously reported, there has been an uptick of new employment decisions finding in favor of registered medical marijuana users.  Somewhat under the radar, New York City’s Office of Administrative Trials & Hearings (“OATH”) also has issued a report and recommendation to reverse an adverse action taken by a New York City agency against a lawful medical marijuana user.

In Taxi & Limousine Comm’n v. W.R., OATH Index. No. 2503/17 (July 14, 2017), adopted, Comm’r Dec. (July 25, 2017), the Taxi & Limousine Commission (“TLC”) revoked the respondent taxi driver’s TLC Driver License because the driver tested positive for marijuana.  OATH reversed, finding that revocation solely because of the driver’s status as a certified medical marijuana patient would violate New York city and state laws.

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Are Zero Tolerance Drug Testing Policies About to Go Up in Smoke?

In an important new decision, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently held that a qualifying patient who has been terminated from employment for testing positive for marijuana as a result of her lawful medical marijuana use may state a claim of disability discrimination under that state’s anti-discrimination statute. As we blogged with respect to a after a similar decision in Rhode Island, this holding has significant implications for employers that drug test for marijuana use because 29 states plus the District of Columbia have enacted legislation legalizing medical and/or recreational marijuana use.

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Growing Questions About Employee Medical Marijuana Use Leave Employers in a Haze

The intersection of employment and marijuana laws has just gotten cloudier, thanks to a recent decision by the Rhode Island Superior Court interpreting that state’s medical marijuana and discrimination laws. In Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics Corporation, the court broke with the majority of courts in other states in holding that an employer’s enforcement of its neutral drug testing policy to deny employment to an applicant because she held a medical marijuana card violated the anti-discrimination provisions of the state medical marijuana law.

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Accessibility Should Not Be Overlooked with New Technological Developments

Our colleague Joshua A. Stein, attorney at Epstein Becker Green, has a post on the Retail Labor and Employment Law blog that will be of interest to many of our readers in the technology industry: “Recent Decisions Reinforce That Accessible Technology Claims Are Not Going Away .”

Following is an excerpt:

As businesses continue to compete to provide customers and guests with more attractive services and amenities, we have seen increased utilization of technology to provide those enhanced experiences.  However, in adopting and increasingly relying on new technologies such as websites, mobile applications, and touchscreen technology (e.g., point of sale devices, beverage dispensers, check-in kiosks) accessibility is often overlooked because of the lack of specific federal standards in most contexts.

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