Lawsuit Says LinkNYC Map Technology Leaves the Blind Behind

Posted in Discrimination at 4:09 pm by kevin

A few months after sidewalk LinkNYC kiosks were installed to provide wireless internet connection as well as other services, an organization advocating for the blind along with three people filed a case against the city of New York and CityBridge for alleged discrimination on blind people in relation to the kiosks.

The National Federation of the Blind based in Maryland and the blind New York residents were represented by their managing attorney, Michelle Caiola. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and claims were brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as state and city civil rights laws.

Primarily aimed to improve the lives of people with disabilities, the LinkNYC kiosks are allegedly futile for visually impaired individuals. According to the lawsuit filed, the tablets and the services that are also included lack features that make them usable or accessible to blind people.

What is the LinkNYC?

LinkNYC is a public-private partnership between the city and an association of technology companies. These kiosks have already taken the place of pay phones in the city and are strategically located in NYC to provide a super fast public WiFi as well as mobile device chargers and a tablet loaded with an app that will allow the public to make phone calls to any part of the United States.

However, these kiosks do not have an available Braille keyboard nor do they have audio instructions and software that will let visually impaired people to use them conveniently and without the help of sighted individuals. These overlooked features prompted the plaintiffs to file a lawsuit against the city of New York, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, including Commissioner Anne Roest and the three technology companies that are part of CityBridge, LLC who were the providers of the kiosks.

One of the plaintiffs, a blind instructor of technology courses in Manhattan, Mindy Jacobsen, said that when she tried to use a kiosk located on Eight Avenue to get directions, the audio was not working and what was available was only a touch screen map that she do not use for since she cannot see. Also, making a 911 call is also impossible for a visually impaired person since it can only be placed using the touch screen pad.


Months ago, LinkNYC was already underfire due to concerns that the advertisements of companies that are posted on the sides of the kiosks and give revenue to the city and CityBridge can compromise the privacy of the people. According to critics, using the services of LinkNYC put pertinent information of users at risk and will make it possible for these companies to send spam emails and content to unsuspecting individuals.

The spokesman from CityBridge said that the kiosks have features that are intended for blind individuals such as Braille labels which are placed beside the 911 button. These stations also have headphone jacks and that the design of the touch screen table is accessible by people on wheelchairs. As for audio cues and other features, the consortium is already working on these improvements.






School Discrimination Lawsuit in Virginia Proceeds

Posted in Discrimination at 11:09 am by kevin

At Bailey’s Elementary School in Fairfax County, Virginia three educators are alleging racial and gender discrimination against their principal.

According to the Washington Post, “Filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, the lawsuit claims that Rachel Charlton, Yolanda Calhoun and Shyrone Stith faced racial and gender discrimination while working with Principal Marie Lemmon, who joined Bailey’s in 2012. Charlton alleges that Lemmon discriminated against her during and after her pregnancy — insulting her for breast-feeding, forcing her to work while on bed rest and limiting her opportunities — and Calhoun and Stith say that the principal treated them unfairly because they are black.

“Bailey’s, located near Falls Church, is the county’s largest elementary. Many of its nearly 1,400 students qualify for training in English as a second language and free or reduced-price meals, a measure of poverty. It receives federal Title I funding because of its high poverty rate.”



Pier 1 Imports Faces Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

Posted in Discrimination at 4:58 pm by kevin

Pier 1 Imports has been hit with a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit in northern California. According to the lawsuit, Kimberly Erin Caselman was forced to take a leave of absence early and then return to work, before the birth of her baby.

According to the L. A. Times, “Caselman, who is seven months’ pregnant, had intended to work through her pregnancy, take a leave, then return to the job. Now her status is up in the air. If she does not return to work on May 20, when her maternity leave ends, she is afraid she will be fired.

Read more here.


Golf Coach Katie Brenny Wins Sexual Discrimination Lawsuit

Posted in Discrimination at 4:33 pm by kevin

Former University of Minnesota golf coach Katie Brenny has won a sexual discrimination lawsuit to the tune of $359,000 by a Minneapolis judge. This amount was the maximum allowed by law.

According to Golf Week, “More than three years after Katie Brenny filed a sexual-discrimination lawsuit against the University of Minnesota, the former women’s golf coach emerged victorious.

“Brenny, who alleged that the school fired her after learning she is a lesbian, has been awarded a maximum $359,000 by a Minneapolis judge, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. After the ruling Tuesday in a trial that began four months ago in Hennepin County District Court, Brenny’s attorney Don Mark expressed relief for his client.”



U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Lawsuit Filed

Posted in Discrimination at 4:12 pm by kevin

In a lawsuit filed recently the U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is being accused of discriminatory practices based on religion in refusing to hire a Muslim Lawyer. Some of the alleged incidents took place in 2009 and 2010.

According to the Washington Post about the lawsuit, “It quotes staff as encouraging Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, during her short period working at the commission, to call in sick on the days that particular commissioners were in the office, to ‘downplay her religious affiliation’ and to emphasize that she is a ‘mainstream and moderate Muslim’ who doesn’t cover her hair.

“The lawsuit, which follows an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint that Ghori-Ahmad filed in 2010, lays blame on several longtime commissioners, including Nina Shea, an attorney and writer who focuses on religious freedom crises abroad, particularly the plight of Christian minorities. The suit quotes Shea as writing that ‘hiring a Muslim like Ms. Ghori-Ahmad to analyze religious freedom in Pakistan would be like ‘hiring an IRA activist to research the UK twenty years ago.’”

It is expected that this lawsuit will play out in the weeks and months to come.


Same Sex Marriage Lawsuit Filed in New Jersey

Posted in Discrimination at 5:20 pm by kevin

On the coattails of the New York State decision to allow same sex marriages, the Garden State, New Jersey has been hit will a lawsuit asking for the same rights. The lawsuit claims the state is engaging in discrimination because of sexual orientation.

The state of New Jersey does allow for civil unions, which in theory offers the same rights as marriage. The activists bringing forth the lawsuit, Garden State Equality, says in practice the rights are not the same.

According to NJ.com, “But plaintiffs said the legal rights are only equal only in theory. They offered stories about trying to visit their partners in hospitals or make medical decisions for them, but being initially denied by staff who did not understand what a civil union was.

“Daniel Weiss, for instance, had to show doctors his civil union ring to show that he could make medical decisions for his long-time partner, John Grant, after Grant was struck by a car and his skull shattered in Manhattan. Despite explaining it to attending doctors, the hospital called Grant’s sister up from Delaware – four hours away – to make medical decisions for him.”

The New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vowed to veto any same sex marriage legislation that crosses his desk, so the advocacy group decided that bringing a lawsuit through the courts was the most reasonable course of action.


Government Settles Native American Discrimination Lawsuit

Posted in Discrimination at 12:08 am by kevin

The U. S. government has settled a discrimination lawsuit filed by Native American farmers. The $680 million class action suit includes the years from 1981-1999 when hundreds of the nation’s 60,000 Native American farmers claim they were wrongly denied loans. Also included is $80 million in debt relief.

As a result the farmers said that they had to sell off portions of their land. According to the settlement the farmers are being divided into two tiers according to economic loss. The lower tier can collect up to $50,000 each and the upper tier up to $250,000 each but more evidence is required for the upper tier.

According to an article in the International Business Times, “The settlement includes $80 million for debt relief and other assistance that will empower the community of Native American farmers. This includes the creation of the Native American Farmer and Rancher Council, a new federal advisory committee that will work together with USDA officials to discuss and execute the USDA’s programs.”

This is being seen as one remedy for a history of discrimination by the USDA.


People with Disabilities in Napa Valley Getting Fair Housing

Posted in Discrimination at 3:46 pm by kevin

Napa Valley, California is also called “wine country” because of the number of vineyards and wineries in that location. Tourism brings in a lot of money from upscale wine connoisseurs and weekend wine tasters.

But, in the midst of this flowing wine and money, some people with disabilities haven’t been given a fair shake when it comes to housing. The 1991 Americans with Disabilities Act states simply that people in wheelchairs must have access to buildings.

One of the largest apartment developers in the U. S. with over 12,000 apartments, A.G. Spanos Companies settled the lawsuit. Some of the apartment units mentioned in the lawsuit reside in the city of Napa, California.

A.G. Spanos has agreed to spend $7.4 million to remodel apartment units nationally and $4.2 million into the National Fair Housing Alliance so that people with disabilities outside of the Spanos properties can make necessary modifications.

It is usually the architects and builders who are relied upon to bring the units up to Federal Fair Housing code and in this case it was found their was no willful disregard to do so. The settlement will also mean that the Fair Housing Napa Valley will get an extra $50,000 to make grants for people with disabilities within the county.


Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Secret Service

Posted in Discrimination at 9:04 am by kevin

The U. S. Secret Service, long charged with protecting presidents, vice-president and their families has been hit with a racial discrimination lawsuit. According to the employment discrimination lawsuit, black agents have been passed over for promotions and have been subjected to racial epithets both verbally and in email form.

According to the employees filing the case, supervisors regularly use racial slurs when talking about criminal suspects or black leaders of foreign countries. Last month a noose was found by one of the black employees inside the Secret Service training center. The employee who tied the noose has been placed on administrative leave.


Anti-Poverty Agency Sues Town for Discrimination

Posted in Discrimination at 11:29 am by kevin

Anti-poverty agency South Middlesex Opportunity Council is suing the officials and residents of Framingham, Massachusetts for discrimination. The lawsuit, filed in Boston, is claiming that town officials and two residents have violated the civil rights of the disabled people they represent.

According to the lawsuit the Framingham officials and residents engaged in a “not in my backyard” effort to rid the town of the disabled residents in a group home. In addition, the allegations claim that the officials and residents illegally delayed the expansion of the group home.

The most recent lawsuit is the third in two years against the city claiming civil rights violations.

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