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Breaking News Ticker  |  Yahoo Full Coverage on disabilities

Proposed Pregnancy Parking Placards Pooh-poohed
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

SACRAMENTO, Feb. 27, 2004 -- CA Assemblyman Tony Strickland was just trying to "make life easier for everybody". Instead, he has put himself at the center of a battle over accessible parking.

Two weeks ago, the Republican lawmaker introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would allow pregnant women to park in spaces designated for people with disabilities. MORE.

Deaf activists accuse feds of captioning "censorship"
WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 24, 2004 -- The decision last fall by the U.S. Department of Education to declare almost 200 television shows "inappropriate" for captioning has mobilized advocates to press the Administration to reverse A decision the National Association of the Deaf calls "censorship". Reruns on cable TV -- "I Dream of Jeannie," "Bewitched," "Law and Order" -- won't be captioned. More.

Bus 'Hostage Taker' Leads Protest On New Bus Use
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 23, 2004 -- Donald Stancile was back in the news Friday, after he lead a protest against the Port Authority of Allegheny County for what he considers an unfair use of new buses.

Stancile, president of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), accused the Port Authority of putting new buses on routes serving more affluent neighborhoods, while leaving older, more run-down buses to serve the lower-income areas.

Stancile made national headlines last month when he was arrested for taking hostage a Port Authority bus. The 53-year-old had parked his motorized wheelchair in front of the bus and refused to move after the bus driver refused to manually operate a hydraulic lift that would not open automatically. Stancile spent a night in jail for his act of civil disobedience.

According to a brief story in Friday's Tribune-Review, a magistrate later dropped the disorderly conduct charge against Stancile and reduced a misdemeanor obstructing traffic charge to a summary offense, the least serious infraction.

ACORN has received a number of complaints about "broken lifts, buses that break down and problems in driver training" in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

"We want a change of attitude," Stancile said Thursday.

Related article: "Group: New buses should be put in needy areas" (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Wheelchair Users Find Courthouse Has "More Obstacles Than The Legal System"
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

AKRON, OHIO, Feb. 19, 2004 -- Construction recently began on an addition to the Summit County Courthouse.

But the construction zone has caused people with physical disabilities, especially those using wheelchairs, to follow a maze around and through barriers: heavy doors, steep inclines, inaccessible parking spaces, narrow entry ways, and confusing directions.

"You have to have at least two people with you to get in there," Meg Rubin, whose mother uses a wheelchair, told the Akron Beacon Journal. "If someone in a wheelchair came here by themselves, they'd have an impossible time getting in."

While county officials say that many of the obstacles are "ADA compliant", wheelchair users say the new route isn't very "disability friendly".

"It's really surprising to me that the city would do this when it has made so many strides in improving accessibility," said disability advocate Blaine Denious. "Now what you have are improvements coming at a cost to taxpayers because the people involved failed to talk to people who will use the facility."

Related article: "Courthouse isn't friendly to some" (Akron Beacon Journal)

FL Appeals Ct Sides with Gov., Schindlers on Terri Schiavo
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

TAMPA, Feb. 17, 2004 -- Governor Jeb Bush, along with Robert and Mary Schindler, scored key legal victories Friday, as a Florida appeals court handed down two decisions regarding Terri Schiavo's right to continue living.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that the governor's attorneys can interview witnesses in the suit that Michael Schiavo has filed against Bush. Mr. Schiavo sued the governor, claiming that he and the Florida Legislature violated his wife's privacy and overstepped the state's constitutional bounds when they passed "Terri's Law" last October. The measure gave the governor permission to have Terri's feeding tube reinserted six days after it had been removed under a court order.

The decision means that Bush's attorney, Ken Connor, can take testimony from several witnesses, including Mr. Schiavo and the woman he calls his "fiancée" and with whom he has fathered two children.

The appeals court also ordered Pinellas Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird to hold further proceedings to re-examine his decision denying the Schindlers, who are Terri's parents, the right to join Bush in the case. Baird failed to follow judicial rules when he refused to allow the parents to get involved in Mr. Schiavo's suit against the governor, the appellate court said.

The Associated Press reported that the Schindlers' attorney, Pat Anderson, said she was "stunned".

"It's been three years since the law has been followed in this case," Anderson explained.

If Judge Baird rules that the Schindlers can join Bush's side in the case, Anderson would be allowed to file and oppose motions and to question witnesses for them.

Disability rights advocates have been watching Terri's legal battle for several years. Her husband, who is also her guardian, and several doctors claim that she has been in a "persistent vegetative state" since she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes in February 1990. The courts have consistently supported Mr. Schiavo's claims that Terri cannot recover from her injury, that she does not feel pain, and that she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means".

Terri's parents believe that she is alert and responsive and that she could improve with therapies which Mr. Schiavo has denied her for at least the past 10 years. They have claimed that Terri's husband wants her to die so that he can remarry, and so he can benefit from what's left of an insurance settlement that now pays for her treatment. The Schindlers want him removed as Terri's guardian and have pushed for an investigation into their allegations that he has abused, neglected and financially exploited her. They also suspect that Michael may have caused Terri's initial collapse.

The Schindlers and advocates have defended Terri's right to live, noting that allowing her to die by starvation would reinforce the message that the lives of people with certain disabilities are not worth living. With their urging and that of right-to-life advocates, Governor Bush championed the measure that allowed the legislature to give him permission to order Terri's feeding tube reinserted to save her life.

"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation

Congressional Lawmakers Want Civil Rights Laws Strengthened
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 12, 2004 -- The Associated Press distributed a brief item Thursday, reporting that Congressional Democrats have presented legislation to strengthen civil rights laws they claim have been eroded by the courts.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, said that the courts have interpreted anti-discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, in ways that limit protections and financial settlements.

Kennedy said the measure would strengthen existing laws where "courts have let us down by unacceptably narrow constructions of existing law or where Congress has unfortunately been less than clear."

The bill, which was not named in the article, addresses situations in which the courts have refused to allow financial damages where the ADA was deliberately violated, along with cases of discrimination based on gender or age. Discrimination and unfair labor practices against undocumented workers would also be covered.

The report said that the bill does not address hate crimes or discrimination based on sexual orientation, nor does it attempt to make gender pay equity a civil right. Those issues have been repeatedly blocked in the Congress.

Macy's Agrees to Widen Aisles
SAB FRANCISCO, FEB. 11, 2004 -- Macy's department stores have agreeed to widen aisles in California stores, setting a class-action lawsuit filed in 1996.

In 2001, in an earlier partial settlement, the department store chain agreed to widen entrances and enlarge fitting rooms and make restrooms accessible in its 75 California stores. At the time it also agreed to pay nearly $3 to disabled Macy's shoppers.

The latest settlement requires the stores to widen aisles to 32 inches and provide 36 inches clearance at corners to enable shoppers in wheelchairs to negotiate turns.

Larry Paradis, director of Disability Rights Advocates in Oakland, told reporters that suits against other department stores weren't faring so well. In November, an Alameda County (CA) Superior Court judge ruled that California's Mervyn's stores did not have to widen their aisles to 32 inches because the company would suffer "undue hardship." That suit is on appeal.

Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ryanair Accused Of 'Blatant Profiteering' From Court Decision
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

LONDON, ENGLAND, Feb. 11, 2004 -- When Ryanair announced last month that it would charge all passengers an extra 50 pence surcharge to cover the cost of providing wheelchairs to passengers who need them, some disability rights advocates thought it was a bit too much. One advocate told the BBC that an analysis showed the maximum cost to Ryanair at about 17 pence per passenger -- suggesting the company planned to profit from a court ruling which ordered it to begin making wheelchairs available.

Now one member of Parliament is accusing the airline of "blatant profiteering".

Lord Carter, who heads a committee examining the Disability Discrimination Bill, said the actual cost of the service at Stansted Airport is only about 2 pence per ticket, meaning that Ryanair could gain as much as 48 pence per passenger.

Ryanair announced the surcharge the same day a court found the carrier had violated the law by not providing a wheelchair for passenger Bob Ross. Touting itself as "The Low Cost Airline", Ryanair had charged Ross, who has cerebral palsy, an £18 fee (about $28 US) each way for the use of a wheelchair at Stansted.

Ross and the Disability Rights Commission, which represented him in the case, argued that the fee was a form of discrimination. The court agreed and ordered Ryanair to pay Ross £1,336 ($2,435 US), and to provide wheelchairs for passengers that ask for them in the future.

The airline plans to appeal the ruling. Attorneys for Ryanair claim that current law requires airports -- not airlines -- to provide wheelchair services.

Related article: "Why is the Ryanair case important?" by disability affairs reporter Geoff Adams-Spink (BBC News Online -- January 30, 2004)

See also: Man Wins Ryanair Discrimination Suit (below)

BBC Sets Quotes for Disabled TV Actors
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

LONDON, ENGLAND, Feb. 10, 2004 -- BBC television viewers should notice more people with disabilities on programs in the coming months, because of new guidelines set by network executives.

Jana Bennett, the corporation's director of television, announced new quotas which the four BBC networks are to use to increase the number of such actors and extras in dramatic programs, the numbers of contestants with disabilities in game shows, and the number of such participants in "factual" shows.

"One in four of the population is either disabled themselves or knows somebody with a disability and independent research last summer showed that audiences were overwhelmingly in favour of seeing more disabled people on screen," Bennett said in a BBC press release.

"Although we have been making progress, we still have further to go and we can't lag behind public opinion," Bennett said.

Bennett said that the BBC will also be launching a talent search and holding auditions for actors with disabilities across the country.

"We recognise that the widest possible range of voices, people and characters should be seen on our screens, and disabled people need to be shown less as minorities with issues, and more as people with lives as rich or as complex as the rest of society," she said.

The networks' goals, which also include recruiting writers, presenters, and directors, are to be reviewed every year.

Related: "New drive to improve disability portrayal on BBC Television" (BBC Press Release)

Sheltered Workshops Pay Equal to Sweatshops, Says Group
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

LAWRENCE, KS, Feb. 9, 2004 -- Few people know that, here in the United States, thousands of employees perform menial tasks -- day after day -- for just pennies an hour. Their work goes by the name of "productivity" or "piece-work".

The practice is entirely legal and tax dollars have been supporting much of it since the 1930s. In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense, along with other federal, state and local agencies, provide and pay for much of the work through contracts with employment agencies.

The pay scale is called "sub-minimum wage", and the vast majority of those who receive these below-minimum wages are people with developmental disabilities.

Those who receive it are told they are lucky they to get that.

In Lawrence, such services are provided by Cottonwood Inc. . . . At Cottonwood, the jobs include a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to assemble military cargo tie-down straps. Work done under the five-year contract has won an award for excellence from the federal government.

The organization [operating Cottonwood] is called CLASS Ltd.

Jan Bolin, president of CLASS, defended the program, saying that if the minimum wage were required, many of the clients with developmental disabilities "wouldn't be able to work at all."

-- From the Lawrence Journal-World

Sub-minimum wage is determined by a formula which measures how fast the average trained, "non-disabled" worker would perform a certain job or assemble a certain item. Then the worker with a disability is timed doing the same work. The speed with which that person does the work, compared to the "non-disabled" or "100 percent" worker, determines how much the worker is paid. In theory, a person with a disability who works half as quickly would receive half the pay of a "normal" worker without a disability.

It's not uncommon for a person to work 40 hours for just a few bucks.

Some advocates in Kansas, which has the lowest state minimum wage in the U.S., want to see that change.

"It has become a sweatshop kind of thing," Greg Jones, director of advocacy for an independent living center in Lawrence, told the Journal-World. "We allow this stuff to happen right here under our very nose and we call it OK."

While the federal minimum wage is $5.15 per hour, the minimum wage varies from state to state, and even from city to city. The state of Washington's minimum wage -- the highest in the country -- is $7.16 an hour. The minimum wage in Kansas is just $2.65.

Jones and other critics point out that most of the work is overseen by employment service providers that contract with governments, non-profits and commercial businesses for the "piece-work". Most of those providers also receive government funds to serve their clients -- the workers themselves.

"At the same time community service providers are selling the services of people with disabilities at a very substandard rate, these providers are bilking Medicaid waivers of Kansas a daily rate between $32 and $82.54 to keep these people out of their homes for five hours a day, as they perform demeaning tasks for little or no pay," Jones said.

Mr. Jones and others are supporting a bill in the Kansas legislature that would increase the state's minimum wage to $7.50 an hour by Jan. 1, 2007.

"Kansans with disabilities want to work and will work, but they need a fair and decent wage to make that transition attractive," said Shannon Jones, executive director of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas.

Related article: "Wages paid to disabled criticized" (Lawrence Journal-World)

See also: Kansas group uses radio ads to target sheltered workshops

Ten Years Later, Latimer Still Says Daughter's Killing OK
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

TORONTO, Feb. 9, 2004 -- On October 24, 1993, Robert Latimer sat in the back of his pickup truck and watched as the engine pumped exhaust into the cab which held his 12-year-old daughter Tracy. When he was certain she was dead, he took her body into the family's Saskatchewan farm house and put her to bed.

Latimer initially denied allegations that he killed Tracy. But two days later he confessed, saying he did it out of love for the girl -- that it was a "mercy killing" motivated by his desire to not see her "continue to suffer" from her developmental disabilities.

Three years ago this month, Latimer started serving a mandatory minimum 10 years of a life sentence for murdering Tracy. He will be eligible for parole in 2007.

In an interview with the Toronto Star in late January, Latimer said that he has no regrets or apologies for his crime.

"It was the right thing to do," Latimer said at the minimum-security William Head Institution where he is now serving his sentence.

"To our opponents, Tracy's pain was a side issue, something they are very capable of ignoring," he said. "But to us, it was a very real situation confronting us every day."

Many disability rights advocates have suggested that Latimer murdered Tracy because he was tired of dealing with his own emotional pain. Some people who knew Tracy said that even though the girl did not speak, she let them know how much she loved people and enjoyed life. Others point to the fact that when Tracy died, she was scheduled to undergo pain-relieving hip surgery a few days later.

The Latimer case has been the focus of attention for disability rights advocates around the world who see it as one of countless examples that society in general does not think the lives of people with disabilities are important -- that killing people who have certain disabilities is not only tolerated, but also justified as "merciful".

Latimer believes most Canadians are on his side, even though he clearly broke the law.

"It's their game and you have to play by their rules," he said of the justice system.

University of Alberta psychology professor Dick Sobsey noted that Canada experienced a marked increase in the incidence of "altruistic filicide" -- the killing of a child out of a belief that death is in the child's best interest -- in the years immediately after Tracy's murder.

"Latimer 10 years on: No regrets" (Toronto Star)
"Tracy Latimer's Death: Mercy or Murder?" (Inclusion Daily Express)

Bush Budget Slashes Promised Initiatives
WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 4, 2004 -- Support among activists for the Bush Adminstration's "New Freedom" rhetoric is disappearing following a look at new budget figures out this week.

The Administration is backing down on what advocates say was a previous commitment to fund efforts to let people choose to receive services at home rather than in institutions. A year ago ADAPT praised the Administration when it unveiled a $1.75 billion, five-year "'Money Follows the Individual' Rebalancing Demonstration" designed to help states by picking up costs for a variety of in-home services demonstrations (read article from Jan. '03 D. R. Nation).

But the Administration has now backed off those commitments, says ADAPT. Bush's FY 2005 budget has no funding for the Money Following the Individual Rebalancing Initiative -- and funding has been reduced 70 percent to only $500 million for FYs 2006-2009, says ADAPT. "This is a major pullback from the President's rhetoric about a major commitment to changing the institutional bias."

As if that weren't bad enough, the President's budget plan also eliminates "$38 million for projects to provide employment services to people with disabilities," notes Justice For All. More from JFA.

FL House Considers New Bill To Keep "Incompetent" Persons Alive
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

TALLAHASSEE, FL, Feb. 3, 2004 -- The Florida House on Tuesday considered a bill that would automatically keep alive any "incompetent" person -- regardless of the family's wishes -- if the person had made no written "clear and convincing" statement to the contrary.

The measure is based on the assumption that a person who relies on a feeding tube to survive would want to continue receiving nutrition, unless if they had made other wishes known.

If the bill passes the House Judiciary Committee as expected, it will head to the full House for a vote sometime after the Legislative session begins March 2. House members hope that Senate President Jim King will then allow the measure to come to a vote in the Senate. Two weeks ago, King said that the Senate would not take up any such bills this session.

"Never say never in the Legislature," said Representative Jeff Kottkamp who sponsored the bill in the House.

The measure was initiated amid the controversy over Terri Schiavo, who has severe disabilities and receives food and water through a feeding tube installed through her stomach wall. Last October, the Legislature passed "Terri's Law", which gave Governor Jeb Bush specific authority to have Terri's feeding tube reinserted six days after it had been removed under a court order.

Terri collapsed on February 25, 1990 at the age of 26 from what doctors believed was a heart attack, and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. She came out of a coma a short time later but has been in what some physicians consider a "persistent vegetative state" from which they say she will not recover.

Her husband, Michael Schiavo, who is also her guardian, claimed that Terri told him prior to her injury that she would not want to live "by artificial means". He petitioned the court beginning in 1998 to have Terri's feeding tube removed.

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought their son-in-law in court to keep their daughter alive. They believe Terri is alert, that she responds to them and tries to communicate. A number of medical professionals agree and say that Terri would benefit from rehabilitative therapies which Michael has refused.

Disability rights and right-to-life advocates put pressure on Governor Bush to intervene in the case last fall, including flooding his office with tens of thousands of messages. Immediately after Terri's feeding tube was removed, Bush pushed the Legislature to pass the "Terri's Law" so he could have the feeding tube reinserted. Michael Schiavo has sued the governor arguing that the law violated her right to privacy and the state constitution's separation of powers.

Terri's case has been of interest to disability rights advocates for a number of years. Many believe that allowing Terri to die of starvation would send a message to others that it is acceptable to kill people with certain disabilities who cannot speak for themselves.

Text of the bill as introduced (pdf document) (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation

"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

Man Wins Ryanair Discrimination Suit
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

LONDON, UK, Feb. 2, 2004 -- Bob Ross won his legal battle with airline giant Ryanair over its policy of charging him to use an airport wheelchair.

Judge Crawford Lindsay QC ruled Friday that Ryanair acted unlawfully by not making sure a wheelchair was provided for Ross, who has cerebral palsy and arthritis. He ordinarily does not use a wheelchair, but the one kilometer distance from the check-in desk to the airplane at Stansted Airport was too far for him to walk.

While other airlines cover the cost of such wheelchairs at all of their airports, Ryanair would not cover the cost at Stansted and five other airports. The airline charged Ross an £18 fee (about $28.25 US) for the use of a wheelchair each way. Ross and the Disability Rights Commission, which represented him in the case, said the fee was a form of discrimination.

In its ruling, the court awarded Ross £1,336 ($2,435 US), which included his original £36 for renting a wheelchair on a round trip journey to France, along with the £300 purchase of his own wheelchair, and £1,000 for injury to his feelings.

A spokesperson for Ryanair, which touts itself as "The Low Fares Airline", said the company plans to appeal the ruling and would now add 50 pence to every passenger ticket -- regardless of whether they use a wheelchair or not

The Ryanair battle has been waging for at least two years. See our earlier coverage.

Disability rights advocates applauded the ruling, but said they were disappointed that the company planned to add such a high surcharge to all passengers. One advocate, interviewed on BBC-TV, said that an analysis showed the maximum cost to Ryanair at about 17 pence per passenger -- suggesting that the company planned to profit from the ruling while attempting to sour passengers' attitudes toward Ross and other riders with disabilities.

"What I want to see now is for the policy to be changed and the charges dropped," Ross told the BBC. "I hope that Ryanair will see that it's wrong to charge disabled passengers for the use of wheelchairs and get rid of the charges."

The DRC wants Ryanair to compensate 35 other people with disabilities who have complained about having to pay the wheelchair fee. The charity said that if the company does not compensate them, it will file a class action against the airline.

Related article: "Why is the Ryanair case important?" by disability affairs reporter Geoff Adams-Spink (BBC News Online)

Lockyer sues Marin County for access violations
MILL VALLEY, CA, Feb. 1, 2004 -- CA Atty Gen. Bill Lockyer, suiting action to words, has begun suing local CA communities that have failed to enforce access laws (see "CA AG Gets Tough on Access Scofflaws." ) On Tuesday, Lockyer filed suit against the city of Mill Valley over access problems with restrooms, ramps, water fountains, doors and elevators at both city facilities and private businesses, including several restaurants. According to news reports, the suit cited numerous complaints that had been filed in 2002 by Richard Skaff, a wheelchair user -- over a year later, says the suit, the problems are still not fixed. The suit names the City Council and the Building Department as defendants.

"It's not an effort to beat up on small businesses," Skaff told reporters. "This is an effort by me, a person with a disability, to be able to function at a relatively even level with the rest of the public." Skaff is deputy director of the San Francisco Mayor's Office on Disability.

The suit seeks a permanent injunction forcing Mill Valley to comply with the state code. (Read story from the Jan. 27 Marin Independent Journal.)

The day after the lawsuit was made public, Marin County officials told reporters they would fight the lawsuit. "We did take a look at facilities to see if there was a problem and, where we found a problem, we followed up with the business owners," City Attorney Greg Stepanicich told the Marin County newspaper. (Read story from the Jan. 28 Marin Independent Journal.)

Man Claims City Retaliated Over Golf Cart Lawsuit
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

CLAREMORE, OK, Feb. 1, 2004 -- Gene Young runs the risk of getting ticketed if he chooses to drive his golf cart on the streets of Claremore, now that a federal judge has refused to grant him a restraining order against the city, the Claremore Progress reported Wednesday.

Young has cerebral palsy and uses a golf cart to get around the small town northwest of Tulsa. He was cited by Claremore Police on October 26 of last year for operating his golf cart on the highway as he was coming home from his job at Lowe's Home Improvement store. He was found guilty in a December 2 trial, and fined $140.

Young filed an appeal on December 23 in federal court, claiming the city is violating the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

On January 13, Young was pulled over again, and was told to keep his cart off of the road, but was not ticketed.

Young then filed for the restraining order in federal court, asking for a temporary injunction to keep the city from giving him any more citations.

In the petition, Young claimed that the city has not made reasonable accommodations for him under the ADA, but has given citizens without disabilities preferential treatment to travel city streets in golf carts. Special signs and warning lights have been installed on Clubhouse Road where golfers are allowed to go back and forth to different portions of the golf course.

Young also accused the city of retaliating against him because of his lawsuit. ] U.S. District Judge Terence Kern refused to grant Young the restraining order, saying that one "is not warranted in this case". Kern went on encourage the city and Young to work out a solution -- perhaps for the city to allow Young to drive his cart on specific routes or at specific times, as it currently does for golfers on Clubhouse Road.

Young's appeal is still pending.

Wal-Mart Suit Can Move Forward, Judge Says
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

WILTON, ME, Feb. 1, 2004 -- A woman's employment discrimination suit against Wal-Mart may proceed, a federal judge has ruled.

Joanne DiDonna filed suit against the retail giant claiming the store in Farmington, Maine violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Maine Human Rights Act by failing to accommodate her disability, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported Wednesday.

DiDonna, 46, began working as a universal product code associate for Wal-Mart in January 1993. Four years later, she started noticing symptoms of muscular dystrophy. By 2000 she was experiencing weakness in her legs, shoulders and arms, and was having difficulty walking or standing for longer than 15 minutes at a time.

That year, Wal-Mart decided to consolidate two positions, one of which belonged to DiDonna. The manager gave the new job to another employee that did not have a disability, even though Wal-Mart's own policy states that when two candidates are qualified for a position, priority is to go to the employee with a disability.

Wal-Mart did offer DiDonna other positions -- including cashier, accounting office and team leader positions -- none of which she could perform, even with accommodations. She eventually resigned and decided to file suit.

DiDonna went to the Maine Human Rights Commission, which upheld her position and referred the matter to private counsel for litigation. She also got help from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued a right to sue letter.

Wal-Mart denied DiDonna's allegations and asked the federal judge, who was not named in the article, to grant a summary judgment. The judge denied Wal-Mart's request, thereby allowing DiDonna's lawsuit to proceed.

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