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Monday, January 4, 2016

Settlement Agreement in Lane v. Brown Employment Case, people with disabilities forced to work in segregated workshops

In Oregon, lawyers arrived at a major settlement agreement in the case of Lane v. Brown, a lawsuit filed on behalf of people with disabilities who were forced to work in segregated, sub-minimum wage workshops. The attorneys who fought for the right for people with disabilities to secure competitive, integrated employment. This case is expected to set a national precedent.

A Press Release from  Disability Rights Oregon 0n Dec. 30, 2015 

The U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon approved a settlement agreement between the Justice Department, a class of private plaintiffs and the state of Oregon, which resolved the department’s and the class plaintiffs’ claims against the state under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The agreement will impact approximately 7,000 Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who can and want to work in typical employment settings in the community.  The private plaintiffs were represented by the Center for Public Representation, Disability Rights Oregon and the law firms of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP and Perkins Coie LLP.  The agreement resolves a class action lawsuit by private plaintiffs in which the department intervened.  The parties’ settlement agreement was approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart of the District of Oregon, who presided over the lawsuit.
The agreement calls for 1,115 people in sheltered workshops to receive jobs in the community at competitive wages over the next seven years.  In addition, 7,000 people will receive employment services that will afford them the opportunity to work in the community, including at least 4,900 youth ages 14 to 24 years old, who are exiting school.  At least half of the youth served will receive an Individual Plan of Employment, which sets forth the services and supports necessary to achieve competitive employment, from Oregon’s vocational rehabilitation system.
The Settlement Agreement, negotiated by state officials, the U. S. Department of Justice and attorneys for individuals with developmental disabilities, stems from a class action lawsuit, Lane v. Brown, that charged Oregon with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Olmstead v. L.C. by segregating individuals with disabilities in settings where they have little to no interaction with non-disabled peers.
Lead plaintiff Paula Lane, who made a high of 66 cents an hour packaging gloves on a sheltered workshop assembly line over a 12-month period in 2010-11, recently started a community-based job that pays minimum wage.  She said her new job is “good,” and said, “I can make more money this way.”
Executive Orders 15-01 and 13-04, the Oregon Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Integrated Employment Plan (Revised July 2015), the DHS Employment First Quality Assurance and Quality Improvement Plan, the DHS Employment First Communication, Outreach, and Awareness Plan, the Oregon Office of Developmental Disability Services’ Training and Capacity Plan, and the Oregon Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services’ (OVRS) Provider Transformation Grant Program together represent a commitment by the State of Oregon to reform its employment service system for individuals with I/DD. The Settlement Agreement builds upon these plans and commitments, and incorporates many of their provisions.
We at DRO as well as our co-counsel, The Center for Public Representation, Miller Nash and Perkins Coie are very pleased for Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities who want to pursue greater independence and self-sufficiency through gainful employment.  We look forward to working collaboratively with the State of Oregon to implement the provisions of the settlement.


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