Settlement Requires Major Improvements in Conditions for Prisoners With Disabilities at Montana State Prison

ACLU, CREEC, and the Montana Department of Corrections Resolve Americans with Disabilities Act Claims Remaining from 1994 Class-Action Lawsuit Over Prison Conditions FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 2, 2017 CONTACT: ACLU of Montana, 406-203-3374, media@aclumontana.org Amy Robertson, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, 303-551-5156, arobertson@creeclaw.org Alexandra Ringe, national ACLU, 212-549-2582, aringe@aclu.org MISSOULA, Mont. — Attorneys for prisoners with disabilities at the Montana State Prison and the state of Montana today filed a proposed settlement agreement that will bring the prison into greater compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This agreement guarantees that prisoners with physical disabilities will have greater access to facilities and programs at the prison that are available to the rest of the population, like vocational training programs and prison jobs. In addition, the agreement requires that prisoners with mental disabilities shall be given reasonable accommodations when needed, such as in disciplinary hearings and education programs. Prisoners with disabilities will not be disciplined for behavior that is a product of a mental illness or physical disability. They will also be ensured the accommodations they need to participate in work assignments. “The Montana Department of Corrections is to be congratulated for working with the plaintiffs to reach this settlement,” said Jon Ellingson, lead local counsel and staff attorney for the ACLU of Montana. “The department’s actions demonstrate a commitment to prison reform that both helps prisoners rehabilitate and benefits the public when these prisoners reenter society after serving their terms.” The class-action lawsuit, Langford v. Bullock, originated 23 years ago following riots at the Montana State Prison. The parties reached a settlement long ago, and the prison complied...

CREEC to receive a Visionaries in Action Award from the GLBT Community Center of Colorado

CREEC is thrilled and honored to receive a 2017 Visionaries in Action Award from The GLBT Community Center of Colorado (The Center)! In notifying us of the award, The Center’s Board Chairman, J. Ryann Peyton wrote that The Center was impressed by “CREEC’s commitment to the protection of civil rights for all Coloradoans, especially those who are members of the LGBT communities.” CREEC has assisted clients in cases at the forefront of LGBT civil rights issues. Protecting individuals from harassment based on sexual orientation, safeguarding survivor benefits for same sex spouses, and assisting with fellow-awardee Emma Shinn’s Name Change Project are recent examples.  CREEC has also collaborated with the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center in putting on a Trans* Legal Forum, teaching about the rights of trans*, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals in fair housing, public accommodations, and other contexts. We are thrilled to be honored alongside two amazing women who have made significant contributions to the LGBT community and have helped advance LGBT civil rights:  Sarah Parady and Emma Shinn. The Jokers, Jewels & Justice 2017 Dinner themed “Liberty & Justice for All is NO JOKE” will be held at the Brown Palace Hotel and will feature as keynote speaker Sarah McBride, National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign and transgender rights advocate. We hope you’ll join us at this wonderful event. The Center opened in 1976 and over the years has grown to become the largest community center in the Rocky Mountain region, giving voice to Colorado’s LGBT community and playing a pivotal role in statewide initiatives to reduce harassment and discrimination. The Center supports 40,000 people a year though wide ranging programs from monthly free...

Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Disability Discrimination at Red Rocks Amphitheatre

A coalition of local disability-rights organizations filed a class action suit in Colorado’s Federal District Court yesterday claiming that the City of Denver has acted to deny those who use wheelchairs the opportunity to meaningfully access to Red Rocks Amphitheatre.  CREEC and its co-counsel at the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) and Disability Law Colorado (DLC) filed the suit against the City of Denver, claiming disability discrimination for failure to make reasonable accommodations to allow people who use wheelchairs to access and enjoy Red Rocks Amphitheatre. If you are a wheelchair-user and have had problems purchasing tickets to Red Rocks, specifically to the front row, please contact us at info@creeclaw.org. Red Rocks, owned and operated by the City of Denver, is a unique Colorado venue carved into a mountain. The only accessible seats at Red Rocks are in the front row or at the very top and back of the theater (Row 70). In fact, of the 9,525 seats at Red Rocks, only 78 seats are accessible to wheelchair users — 40 seats short of what is required by the regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the suit, despite the limited numbers of accessible seats available, Red Rocks and its contractors routinely engage in practices that further decrease the number of seats available for wheelchair users. For example, Red Rocks does little to ensure that tickets for accessible seats are sold or given to people who actually need accessible seating. What’s more, when people who do not need accessible seating end up in the front row and those using wheelchairs ask to be seated in the accessible section,...

NAD Lawsuit Against Harvard and MIT Moves Forward, Obligation to ensure equal treatment applies in emerging technologies

November 4, 2016 — Judge Mark G. Mastroianni of the District Court of Massachusetts denied Massachusetts Institute for Technology’s (MIT) and Harvard University’s motions to dismiss the National Association of the Deaf’s (NAD) and other named plaintiffs’ complaint that the institution discriminates against deaf and hard of hearing people by failing to caption the vast and varied array of online content they make available to the general public, including massive open online courses (MOOCs). Today’s decision affirms that plaintiffs’ case will be going forward. MIT and Harvard suffered a huge blow to their positions that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act do not require the institution to provide closed captions on its online videos that it makes open and available to the world. Plaintiffs are represented by Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), NAD, and Disability Law Center (DLC) in the lawsuit against MIT, and by CREEC, NAD, and DLC in the lawsuit against Harvard. Arlene Mayerson, DREDF Directing Attorney, said, “I am thrilled that we have made this important inroad into ensuring that 21st century online education is accessible to all.” Today’s decision rejected Harvard’s and MIT’s arguments that they were “entitled to statutory exemptions for accommodations that impose an unreasonable financial or administrative burden, or require a fundamental change in the good at issue.” Judge Mastroianni noted Defendants’ arguments were “inappropriate for resolution on a motion to dismiss. A motion to dismiss addresses the plausibility of a plaintiff’s claims, not the strength of a defendant’s affirmative defenses.” Tim Fox, CREEC Co-Executive Director,...

CREEC & DMFHC Settle Family Status and Disability Housing Discrimination Complaints

Denver, CO — The Denver Metro Fair Housing Center (DMFHC) and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) resolved fair housing complaints against a management company that explicitly discriminated against families with children and people with disabilities. When DeWayne Curtis was looking for an apartment for himself, his wife, and his toddler son, he responded to a Craigslist ad for the Langford Apartments in Littleton. When he reached the apartment manager, however, he was told that the apartment did not accept families with children. Mr. Curtis, knowing this was illegal, reached out to the DMFHC. The DMFHC conducted an undercover investigation of the Langford, in which the management company’s employee was caught on tape telling investigators, “no kids,” and “we don’t accept children.” He also told a Deaf investigator, “we don’t allow service animals,” and “if you’re deaf I don’t think this is the place for you.” These are all open and shut fair housing violations. DMFHC, with the help of lawyers at CREEC, filed complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) against Katchen & Company and the owners of the Langford for discriminating against families with children and people with disabilities on July 12, 2016. These complaints follow two previous complaints against Katchen, one of which resulted in DMFHC educating Katchen staff on fair housing laws requiring reasonable accommodations for service animals; the second — not long after — requiring a lawsuit to prevent the eviction of two Katchen tenants following their requests to accommodate their service animals. Under the Fair Housing Act, owners, managers, and other housing providers must make reasonable accommodations in their...

Welcome Mark Lindsay to CREEC’s Board of Directors!

CREEC is very excited to announce that Mark Lindsay, Director of the Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals practice area of The Livingston Group LLC, has joined CREEC’s Board of Directors. Here are just some of Mark’s many accomplishments, plagiarized shamelessly from his Livingston Group page: Mark served on President Obama’s Transition Team and in President Clinton’s White House as Assistant to the President for the Office of Management and Administration.  His areas of responsibility included the White House Military Office, which managed Air Force One, the White House Communications Agency, the Medical Unit, and Camp David; running the White House Operations; and the Executive Office of the President’s Office of Administration, which was responsible for finance, information systems, human resources, legal/appropriations and security.  Mark’s office was responsible for the logistics of all domestic and international Presidential travel and special air missions.   President Bill Clinton selected Mark to be the operational lead for the White House’s 2001 transition preparation and execution. Prior to his appointment to the White House, Mark served as senior legislative aid and counsel to Congressman Louis Stokes (D-OH).  He worked closely with Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus on a number of business and economic issues. Mark was a member of Senator Hillary Clinton’s Minnesota Finance Committee for her 2008 Presidential campaign. Before joining The Livingston Group, Mark was with UnitedHealth Group, one of the world’s largest healthcare companies, where he held a number of senior positions including President of the AARP Pharmacy Services Division and Vice President of Public Communications and Strategy. Mark holds a B.A. from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota; a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of...
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