Posts Tagged ‘public accommodations’

Transgender Bias Soon To Be Unlawful in Md.

It will soon be as illegal in Maryland to deny employment on the basis of gender identity as on the basis of race or religion or gender, under a bill that clearest its last legislative hurdle last week in the general assembly.

The Senate Bill 212, otherwise known as the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014, made it through the Democratic-controlled House by a vote of 82-57, after more than two hours of floor debate. It passed the state Senate earlier this month, 32-15.

The Democratically-controlled legislature defeat Republican-offered amendments to exempt public accommodations from the law’s protections, arguing that to allow transgenders to use opposite-sex bathrooms could pose a threat to women and children because it would allow possible predators and pedolphiles to use women’s restrooms.

But supporters of the bill said there’d been no such incidents in other states that have passed gender identity protections in their public accommodations laws.

Governor Martin O’Malley, who led the effort to pass same-sex marriage in Maryland, is expected to sign the bill soon.

Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, and Montgomery County already provide such protections.

NYC Restaurants Settle ADA Public Accommodation Case Brought by U.S. Attorney

It’s not an employment case, but nevertheless important for ADA watchers. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced yesterday the settlement of alleged ADA Title III violations against owners and operators of three popular Mexican restaurants in New York City.

The U.S. Attorney brought the suit against ROSA MEXICANO COMPANY, WEST 62 OPERATING LLC, FENIX RESTAURANT, INC., and ROSA MEXICANO USQ LLC–owners and operators of the Rosa Mexicano restaurants.

According to the suit, the defendants committed numerous ADA violations at each of Rosa Mexicano’s Manhattan locations: 61 Columbus Avenue (“Rosa Mexicano Lincoln Center”), 1063 First Avenue (“Rosa Mexicano First Avenue”), and 9 East 18th Street (“Rosa Mexicano Union Square”). “Most significantly, Rosa Mexicano Lincoln Center lacks an accessible main entrance, and its “alternate entrance” is also non-compliant in several respects.”

Similarly, Rosa Mexicano First Avenue similarly lacks an accessible entrance, and all three of its restrooms are
inaccessible to persons with disabilities, the U.S. Attorney charged. At Rosa Mexicano Union Square, both the main and
“alternate” entrances fail to comply with the ADA, as do the men’s and women’s restrooms.

Under the consent decree setting the case, the defendants will have to make the restaurants’ entrances, waiting areas, bar areas, dining areas, and restrooms more accessible.

“Notably, the consent decree provides for renovations to the main and alternate entrances at Rosa Mexicano Lincoln Center; the creation of an accessible alternate entrance and the construction of an accessible restroom at Rosa Mexicano First Avenue; and renovations to the entrance and the men’s and women’s restrooms at Rosa Mexicano Union Square.”

The owners and operators of the restaurants will pay a $30,000 civil penalty to the United States, the U.S. Attorney said.

Why does this matter for employers? Because all public accommodations–including employers that let in the public to their premises–are subject to the ADA. Also, if the restaurants were not making their premises accessible to disabled patrons, chances are they weren’t making them accessible to their workers also.

You can read more about the settlements at the U.S. Attorney’s website.

DOJ, Law Firm Settle ADA Title VII Public Accommodation Claim

A case from New York is a reminder that employers have an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act to make their facilities accessible to persons with disabilities.  The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced yesterday that an Orange County law firm settled a civil rights suit alleging discrimination on the basis of discrimination.

According to the announcement Larkin, Axelrod, Ingrassia and Tetenbaum, LLP and partner John Ingrassia, violated ADA’s Title III when they refused to meet a client in their office because she brought along a service animal.

The announcement said that the settlement took the form of a consent decree approved by U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti.

ADA Title III requires nondiscrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations and commercial facilities. Under Justice Department regulations, that specifically includes an attorney’s office, among other places open to the public.

So this is a reminder that employers also come under Title III’s purview and must make sure that if they open their premises to the public–including their employees and job applicants–that they are accessible to disabled persons.