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,...

CREECster Julie Wilensky Presents at PELA Brown Bag

Julie Wilensky, Director of CREEC’s California office, and Jacob Richards of Keller Rohrback, LLP presented at a brown bag sponsored by Colorado’s Plaintiff Employment Lawyer Association on the subject of Advocating for the Rights of LGBT Employees. The lunch was held at Rathod Mohamedbhai’s awesome new building, Laundry on Lawrence.  We all got a tour after the presentation.  Q and Tim check out RM’s excellent ramp: And we all appreciated the fantastic decor....

Presenting at Access and Ability’s Northern Colorado Leadership Gathering

I got to do one of my favorite things today:  teach about disability rights and enforcement to a group of enthusiastic advocates and future disability rights leaders.  Under the leadership of Menda Ide, the nonprofit group Access and Ability holds an annual leadership conference for up and coming disability rights advocates in Northern Colorado.  I was privileged to present today, including a whirlwind tour of the ADA, Section 504 and the Fair Housing Act, and of course, surveying and enforcement — with props! Thanks, Menda, for the chance to work with this terrific...

Colorado Gives Day and CREEC

For the first time ever, CREEC is participating in Colorado Gives Day, an annual statewide movement to celebrate and increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving! Colorado Gives Day begins at 12:00 a.m. MST on Tuesday, December 8, 2015 (perfect for all you late-night online shoppers). We ask that you please add CREEC to your list of organizations receiving a year-end donation. Over the past two years, CREEC has grown into an organization with six attorneys and offices in two states! We’ve expanded our Medical Communication Access Project, filing two lawsuits and successfully settling one of them. We’ve started a testing program to make sure businesses and organizations aren’t discriminating against people who use wheelchairs, are deaf or hard of hearing, are blind, or are transgender. We’ve pursued – and successfully settled! – cases with the Colorado Department of Corrections to fight for inmates’ rights to outdoor exercise. We’ve intervened on behalf of apartment residents and veterans facing discrimination for using service animals. For a more complete picture of what we’ve accomplished in 2015, feel free to scroll through the CREECblog or view our Cases page. We can continue with this important work – and expand into new areas of civil rights education and litigation – only with your help. Please consider a donation to CREEC on Colorado Gives Day this year. You can make your gift via paper check or by using our Colorado Gives...

Julie Wilensky Speaking on LGBT Employment Issues at NY City Bar CLE Program

Hey NYC lawyers! CREEC’s California Director Julie Wilensky will be speaking about “Employment Law Post-Obergefell” at the New York City Bar on Tuesday, December 1 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. The panel, which will cover how the Obergefell and the Windsor Supreme Court decisions affect employment law and benefits for both LGBT employees and employers, is in-person only. If you will be in NYC on December 1st, be sure to...

Upcoming Webinar: Advocating for the Rights of LGBT Employees

Mark your calendars for December 8, 2015 at 11 a.m. PT (2:00 p.m. ET/12:00 MT)! Julie Wilensky, the Director of CREEC’s new California office, will be co-presenting a webinar entitled “Advocating For The Rights Of LGBT Employees” via the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) website. The 90-minute presentation will cover topics such as the current state of LGBT rights in the workplace, recent developments in Title VII law, pension and health benefit issues, and issues relating to transgender health care exclusions. For more information about the program and to register in advance, head over to NELA’s website using this...
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