Court Agrees that Americans with Disabilities Act Applies to Employment

Court Agrees that Americans with Disabilities Act Applies to Employment

Press Release - May 18, 2012
National Disability Rights Network (NDNR)

WASHINGTON – In the first case of its kind, the U.S. District Court in Oregon validated the claim that people with disabilities have the right to work and receive employment-related services in integrated settings.

This case was filed by
Disability Rights Oregon and co-counsels Center for Public Representation, a non-profit public interest law firm, as well as the private law firms Perkins Coie LLP and Miller Nash LLP. The suit was filed 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.

Though dismissing the case on legal technicalities, the Court determined that the plaintiffs have valid claims under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and that the integration mandate applies to the provision of employment-related services. The Court went so far as to tell the plaintiffs how to amend their complaint so the case could proceed at a later date.

“This is a groundbreaking ruling,” said Curt Decker, NDRN’s executive director. “For the first time, a court has acknowledged that the ADA applies to provision of employment-related services.”

“The courts have long said it is discrimination to require people with disabilities to live in institutions to receive services,” continued Decker. “It is gratifying to now know people with disabilities can now look to the courts to ensure they do not face the same discrimination in the workplace.

The U.S. Department of Justice also told the court it supports the Plaintiffs’ case, making clear that it interprets the Title II integration mandate of the ADA to prohibit the unnecessary provision of employment-related services to persons with disabilities in segregated sheltered workshops, in which persons with disabilities have little to no opportunity to interact with non-disabled persons.

Disability Rights Oregon is the Oregon Protection and Advocacy agency and a member of the National Disability Rights Network. The case is known as Lane v. Kitzhaber, 3:12-cv-00138-ST.