Greetings from Disability Rights & Resources!
$50,000 Settlement Reached in EEOC v. America’s Thrift, Inc. Disability Discrimination Suit
In 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Alabaster chain of America’s Thrift Stores, Inc. The lawsuit alleged the store failed to provide one of its employees, Jenny Grimes, with reasonable accommodations and then terminated her because they considered her a “liability.” Grimes, who has a joint condition that affects the functioning of her musculoskeletal system, had requested an accommodation to assist her with the lifting and reaching requirements of her job. The company refused to provide her with the requested accommodations and fired her one week after receiving documentation of her disability, claiming Grimes was unable to perform the essential duties of her job. The U.S. District court recently ruled in favor of the EEOC, affirming Grimes’ employers were in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court ordered America’s Thrift to pay $50,000 in monetary damages. The settlement also included a provision that requires America’s Thrift to implement specific policies and procedures so that applicants and existing staff are not subject to unlawful discrimination based on disability. The company will be responsible for submitting semi-annual reports to the EEOC and holding annual ADA training sessions for its employees. In addition, the settlement states “all newly hired managers, human resources employees and recruiters shall be required to complete this training within fourteen days of their start date.”
Disability Rights & Resources Volunteer Spotlight
Please join us in welcoming our new volunteer, Jermaine Watkins. Jermaine is currently pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Applied Arts and Sciences at Lawson State, and his work at Disability Rights & Resources is part of a 150-hour internship required to complete his degrees. Jermaine is in the office Monday through Friday and helps maintain the computer lab. He’s especially interested in assistive technology and is excited to learn more about making computers accessible. Thanks for your hard work, Jermaine!
Disability Rights & Resources Staff Spotlight
Congratulations to our very own Wanda Berry, who was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Benefits and Work Incentives Specialists (NABWIS). NABWIS is a professional organization whose members are committed to assisting individuals who receive disability benefits. They promote a greater understanding of the field through in-depth analysis, training, technical assistance, and education, so that beneficiaries can make informed decisions about employment. Wanda has been with Disability Rights & Resources for 6 years. Prior to joining us, she was employed at the Social Security Administration for more than 30 years.
WIPA and PABSS Funding Reinstated
Great news! Social Security is reinstating funding for both the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) programs–critical resources that help SSDI and SSI recipients attain self-sufficiency through employment and provide them with a working knowledge of their benefits After WIPA funding expired last June and funding for PABSS ran out in September, providers and agencies advocated tirelessly for these programs to be reinstated. Congress has reportedly allocated $27 million to restart WIPA and $7 million for PABSS funding, with award notices being issued in August and September 2013. More information is forthcoming; please check www.nabwis.org for updates.
National Council on Disability (NCD) Recommendations to Implement Medicaid Managed Care without Harming Americans with Disabilities
On March 18, the NCD released a report titled “Medicaid Managed Care for People with Disabilities: Policy and Implementation Considerations for State and Federal Policymakers.” In the report, the agency lists key findings, guiding principles, and specific recommendations for designing managed care services for individuals with disabilities. To see the full report please visit http://www.ncd.gov/publications/2013/20130315/.
Delta Airlines Survey
In an effort to improve and make its services more accessible, Delta Airlines is conducting a survey to learn about the travel experiences of passengers with disabilities. If you’d like to participate in their anonymous online survey, please visit http://kuclas.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9mgTY3649acawcZ.
Mark Your Calendars!
*Please note that Disability Rights & Resources is a fragrance-free environment, and we ask that you refrain from wearing any scented products while visiting our facility. Thanks!