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DOJ approves Virginia settlement on ADA violations

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] approved an agreement [final order text, PDF] Friday between the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] and Virginia in a case dealing with the treatment of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Virginia was found to have violated the interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [official website] requirements in the Supreme Court decision Olmstead v. LC [opinion text]. The district court ruled that Virginia had been violating ADA regulations "to provide people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to live and receive services in the community." In a statement [text], the DOJ explained the new agreement:

The settlement agreement will provide relief to more than 5,000 people by expanding community services and supports, including Medicaid-funded home and community-based waivers, crisis services, housing and employment supports and by establishing a comprehensive quality management system.
An independent party will be in charge of ensuring Virginia's compliance with the agreement and issuing regular reports. The settlement was originally submitted [PDF] for court approval in January. It was then pre-approved in March before it was opened up for public debate in June and ultimately approved as a final order on Friday.

The ADA has been the subject of much case law and has been amended since its adoption in 1990 [JURIST report]. In May, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] ruled that an employee with a claim under the ADA does not need to show that his or her disability was the sole reason he or she was fired, only that the disability was a "but-for" cause of the termination. In 2008 the US Congress amended the act [JURIST report] to make it easier for employees to bring a claim under the law, closing gaps that could have denied protection to employees with certain disabilities. At that time, Congress said the amendments were necessary to remedy the US Supreme Court's restrictive interpretation of the law in Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc. v. Williams [opinion text] in 2002. The Supreme Court also ruled in 2006 that states have no immunity [JURIST report] under the ADA and must comply with its standards.

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