There is nothing the Supreme Court loves more in a discrimination case than a set of shifting burdens of production, persuasion, proof, or whatever other word starting in “p” the Court thinks will describe complicating the analysis of a discrimination case. It proved this recently in Young v. United Parcel Service, a pregnancy discrimination case, but the process goes back to McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Greene, a race discrimination case decided in 1973. The McDonnell Douglas waltz goes like this: plaintiff has to make a preliminary showing of discrimination, the defendant has to show that it had a non-discriminatory reason, and then the plaintiff has to prove the defendant was really motivated by discriminatory feelings. By way of contrast an ordinary lawsuit just puts a single burden on the plaintiff; that is, prove the defendant did something wrong. The McDonnell Douglas waltz guarantees that discrimination litigation will be more complex, time-consuming and expensive than an ordinary lawsuit. More
On its face EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, which was recently argued before the Supreme Court, doesn’t have much to do with the ADA and FHA. It has been generally reported as a case concerning religious discrimination, and seems to have little to do with disabilities. Despite this, the Court’s ruling could have a significant impact on how employers and public accommodations handle reasonable accommodation requests. Putting aside the legalese, the question before the Court is whether “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a reasonable way to deal with those whose religious beliefs, or disabilities are not obvious.
On March 5, 2015 the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion in one of the longest running ADA lawsuits around. Chapman v. Pier 1 Imports (U.S.) Inc., 2015 WL 925586 (9th Cir. Mar. 5, 2015). Like the Home Depot case I wrote about a few weeks ago the issue in Chapman v. Pier 1 concerned obstructions that blocked access and a policy that was supposed to prevent such obstructions. Unlike Home Depot, Chapman v. Pier 1 includes some clear guidelines for businesses that want to make sure they are “walking the walk.”
By Richard Hunt in ADA, ADA FHA Litigation General, ADA Policies, ADA regulations, Retail, Uncategorized Tags: ada litigation, ADA pleading, ADA standing, FHA ADA litigation "statute of limitations" strategy DOJ "attorney general" enforcement, private lawsuits, private litigants
This inspiring picture of a para-athlete should remind us all of what those with “disabilities” as defined by the law can achieve. It should also make the courts consider whether they have mis-construed the law concerning injury under the ADA. I’ve written many times before about the troubling tendency of some courts to ignore the actual injury requirement for lawsuits under the ADA. (See my posts on December 23, 2013, October 3, 2013, May, 2013 and especially Nov. 6, 2013). A recent decision from North Carolina shows how one court, at least, has adopted the common sense view that a plaintiff who has not been injured cannot maintain an action under the ADA. Blue v. Boddie-Noell Enterprises, Inc., 2015 WL 509831 (E.D.N.C. Feb. 6, 2015). More
Curtis v. Home Depot USA, Inc., 2015 WL 351437 (E.D. Cal. 2015) is not an unusual case, but that makes it a good reminder that an ADA policy doesn’t do any good if it isn’t implemented. The fact that there are so many cases like Curtis proves that many businesses don’t understand that just because it’s written doesn’t make it true.
In Curtis one of the plaintiff’s many complaints about his local Home Depot was that the accessible route from the accessible parking to the store’s front door was frequently blocked by merchandise displays. Before filing suit he complained to the store manager, but without effect. Home Depot’s defense was that the issue was moot because it had a policy against blocking the access aisle and, after the lawsuit was filed, the manager testified that the access aisles were not being blocked. More