Metro signs consent decree for ADA

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Metro officials signed an agreement this week with the Justice Department requiring training in the Americans with Disabilities Act for staff following allegations from a prospective employee, according to the consent decree.

“We are pleased to have reached a mutually acceptable resolution to this matter,” Metro spokesperson Sherri Ly said Thursday.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will have to write new hiring policies that align with ADA and create training for its hiring staff, according to the two-year consent decree.  

Justice Department spokesperson Mark Abueg said the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where the consent decree is filed, still needs to approve the decree before the document becomes active.

“It’s pending with the court,” Abueg said Friday. “The court must approve and enter it.”

Metro has 15 days from when the document goes into effect to identify who will be responsible for ADA-related communications for the agency. That person would also make sure Metro implements each part of the consent decree. Thirty days from the document becoming effective, Metro will have to send drafts of the new policies implementing of ADA regulations, as well as training in Title I of ADA for all employees who examine employees before Metro hires them and employees who are able to hire applicants.  

The department could propose changes to the drafted policies.

According to the consent decree, Metro is required to have the department approve its 90-minute training on Title I of ADA at least one month before the company begins to use the training.

Bennie Vaughn applied for the position of elevator/ escalator parts supervisor, but Metro management did not hire him because management determined his epilepsy would harm his ability to do the job, according to the consent decree the Department of Justice released March 1.

The Justice Department, a plaintiff in the case, alleged that Metro violated ADA when the organization addressed Vaughn following his provisional job offer. It also alleged Metro violated ADA by not hiring the man in relation to what the organization described as a disability.
Metro denied the Justice Department's allegations, according to the consent decree.

"WMATA denies any and all of the allegations ebbing made by the United States and specifically denies that it discriminated against Mr. Vaughan in any way," U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in the consent decree.

In response to the incident allegations, the decree includes a series of requirements for WMATA.

“WMATA and its officials, agents and employees will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of disability in violation of Title I of ADA and its implementing regulation,” U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote in the consent decree.

Abueg said the consent decree is not indicating that Metro has problems with ADA compliance, but rather gives actions for Metro to address the alleged incident.

Berman Jackson wrote in the decree a list of requirements for Metro to complete to address the Justice Department’s requirement for a dialogue with the employee with a disability. Metro must conduct an independent medical assessment to determine how well the applicant could perform the job duties

The independent medical assessment would require also that WMATA talk with the applicant about what made supervisors concerned. The organization would tell the applicant about accommodations it could make to help the person.

Berman Jackson said Metro must do the following to meet the requirements of the dialogue portion of the consent decree:

$    ·         Metro supervisors must tell the applicant what disability made them concerned

$    ·         Metro must specify which duty the applicant would have trouble performing, given the disability

$    ·         Metro must check with managers relevant to the position to make sure that the duty or job function  of concern is actually part of the job for which it is considering the applicant

$    ·         Metro must give the applicant the opportunity to respond to its concern, either by explaining the disability further or requesting “reasonable accommodation of that disability.”

Six months after the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia enters the consent decree, Metro will have to report to the Justice Department about what it is doing to meet the consent decree requirements. This process would repeat every six months for the duration of the consent decree.

Metro will also have to keep an attendance record for the medical examiners and other hiring-related employees all attending the 90-minute training Metro has to create.  



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