Legal Analysts

Showing posts with label Discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Discrimination. Show all posts

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Understanding Your Rights: Service Dogs, Discrimination, and the Law

Service dogs play a pivotal role in the lives of many individuals with disabilities, acting as their lifeline in countless situations. Given their importance, it's crucial for people to know their rights when it comes to these trained companions, especially in places of public accommodation and housing. Understanding the legal landscape surrounding service dogs is vital. Those with disabilities deserve to live without fear of discrimination, and it's imperative for facilities and establishments to understand and respect their rights.

The Legal Background:

By way of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA), service dogs are widely acknowledged as reasonable accommodations for those with statutorily recognized disabilities. This recognition extends across the nation, covering a range of establishments, both public and private.

Should anyone find themselves denied these rights, they can legally bring forth a lawsuit for failure-to-accommodate. The range of potential damages is extensive, from recovery for emotional distress and other compensatory damages (like expenses that arose due to the denial) to punitive damages based on the circumstances and the intent behind the denial. Significantly, victims might be awarded attorneys' fees, ensuring they can secure top-notch representation without bearing the financial burden.

For a successful claim, victims must substantiate five key elements:

  1. Proof of a statutorily recognized disability.
  2. Evidence that the discriminator knew (or reasonably should have known) about the disability.
  3. The asserted accommodation (i.e., the service dog) should not pose undue hardship, making it reasonable.
  4. The service animal must directly address the needs of the person with the disability, signifying its necessity.
  5. There must have been a denial of the accommodation or a refusal to participate in the interactive process.

It's important to note that state laws can sometimes offer even more protection to victims. For instance, the New York State Human Rights Law expands on the federal definition of disabilities. Unlike federal law, it doesn't demand that an impairment substantially impacts a major life activity to be recognized. Given these intricacies, victims are advised to consult with a discrimination attorney before taking any action, apart from promptly documenting the 6 Ws of Discrimination: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and Witnesses. The process is far from simple.

Service Animal vs. Emotional Support Animal: The Distinction Matters:

It's pertinent to highlight the differentiation between a service animal and an emotional support animal. Under the ADA, this distinction becomes relevant in public places. Yet, under the FHA, both these categories are considered viable reasonable accommodations. Some states, like New York, recognize rights to emotional support animals at public places as well. 

The bone of contention here lies in the inherent definitions. As per the Code of Federal Regulations, a service animal is explicitly trained to execute tasks or perform work benefiting an individual with a disability. This can range from physical and sensory disabilities to psychiatric or intellectual ones. In contrast, emotional support animals don't undergo such specialized training. It's essential to recognize that proving a service animal's training and the necessity of its skills requires evidence.

Relying on a conversation with a representative at the ADA is fraught with risk. The interpretation of the law should be grounded in statutes, regulations, and case law, not someone's subjective opinion. Facilities would do well to engage with their legal counsel in such situations and embark on the 'interactive process' as necessitated by the ADA.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Newsmax: Attorney Andrew Lieb Defends State Denying Catholic Couple's Foster Application Due to Discrimination on Gender and Sexuality

Attorney Andrew Lieb joins Newsmax to debate with Heritage Foundation attorney about a lawsuit trying to let foster parents discriminate against children's sexual orientation by blaming free speech and religious rights. Lieb argues on behalf of the children from the perspective of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families in defending the decision to deny the couple's foster application. He cites Massachusetts regulations requiring foster parents to support and affirm the sexual orientation and gender identities of LGBTQ foster children. Lieb claims this policy is needed to ensure vulnerable foster children know that they will be loved no matter who they are because the Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

The New York Times: My 55+ Community Is Discriminating Against Me. What Power Do I Have?

Attorney Andrew Lieb was featured in The New York Times, shedding light on a troubling discrimination case in a 55+ community. The homeowners association issued a rule permitting single owners to bring guests to the pool but restricting married couples to only bringing their spouses. Such unequal treatment may potentially fall under housing discrimination, protected by the New York State Human Rights Law. Read the article here: 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

PIX 11: Suffolk County Employee & His Attorney Andrew Lieb Alleges Racist Behavior By Colleagues

Breaking the Silence on Race Discrimination

Check out this powerful story about our client, Julio Germain, who faced shocking racism and discrimination at the Suffolk County Department of Public Works.

Julio Germain, a 38-year-old DPW employee, endured years of racist and discriminatory behavior from his co-workers and supervisors.

Julio bravely reported the misconduct, but management ignored his complaints and even retaliated by denying him promotions.

With the help of our team, Julio filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights, and they have confirmed that there's probable cause to believe Suffolk County DPW engaged in unlawful discriminatory practices.

As the law firm representing Julio, we firmly stand against any form of discrimination, and we won't rest until justice is served.

Please share this story and let's create awareness to put an end to racism and discrimination in the workplace. Together, we can make a difference!

*Attorney Advertising

Monday, July 24, 2023

Newsmax: Attorney Andrew Lieb Talks About Mental Illness & Whether It's An Excuse For Being Late To Your Job

Attorney Andrew Lieb joined a Newsmax panel discussion about chronic tardiness at the workplace.

To qualify for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a condition must be a statutorily recognized disability. Currently, chronic tardiness related to mental health doesn't meet this criterion.

If recognized, it must then be proven that the employer doesn't face undue hardship due to the employee's unpredictable timekeeping.

Lieb advised employers against bending rules for certain groups to avoid creating a reverse discrimination scenario. He advocated for strict, fair policies that benefit all employees and ensure genuine accommodations for recognized disabilities aren't undermined.