A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?

A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?

Donna Martinez May 19, 2012

And apparently the US District Court in Oregon is in agreement!
From NDRN: Breaking News

Yesterday, the U.S. District Court in Oregon issued a 16-page Opinion and Order in the case Lane v. Kiltzhaber, 3:12-cv-00138-ST. The Lane complaint claims that failure to provide supported employment services violates Title II of the ADA and the integration mandate. The Court granted the state defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint, but without prejudice and with leave to amend, while directing the Plaintiffs how to correct the wording of the complaint. Most importantly, the Court determined that the plaintiffs have valid cognizable claims under Title II of the ADA and that the integration mandate applies to the provision of employment-related services.
This case was filed by Disability Rights Oregon and co-counsels Center for Public Representation, Perkins Coie LLP and Miller Nash LLP, on behalf of eight individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are able and would prefer to work in an integrated employment setting, but instead are segregated in sheltered workshops.

Recognizing that this is a case of first impression, the Court noted “no other case has applied the integration mandate in a context other than one in which the state’s action places plaintiffs at risk of institutionalization. However, the dearth of authority does not led inexorably to the conclusion that the integration mandate is inapplicable to plaintiffs’ claims. To the contrary, the broad language and remedial purposes of the ADA, the corresponding lack of any limiting language in either the ADA or the integration mandate itself, and the lack of any case law restricting the reach of the integration mandate suggests just the opposition conclusion.” (Opinion at 10-11).

In reaching this conclusion, the Court carefully scrutinized the defendants’ arguments for dismissal, and gave deference to the U.S. Department of Justice’s interpretation of the integration mandate which prohibits the unnecessary provision of services in non-integrated settings, including segregated sheltered workshops. (Opinion at 7-9).

The Court distinguished claims for a “discriminatory denial of services” versus claims for “providing inadequate services,” holding that “a claim survives only if it truly alleges a ‘discriminatory denial of services’ and must be dismissed if it instead concerns the ‘adequacy’ of the services provided.” (Opinion at 13-16).

Noting that the plaintiffs clarified at oral argument that they are seeking the “provision of employment services that would allow them the opportunity to work in an integrated setting,” and seek to have defendants “reallocate their available resources in a way that does not unjustifiably favor segregated employment,” the court determined that some of the allegations in the complaint “go beyond the clarification offered” at the hearing” and identified specific claims subject to amendment. (Opinion at 14-15).

Plaintiffs have been given leave to amend their complaint by May 29, “to clarify that the defendants are violating Title II of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act by denying employment services to plaintiffs for which they are eligible with the result of unnecessarily segregating them in sheltered workshops.” (Opinion at 16).