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Nobel learns the hard way: ADA violations are costly

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in HR Management,Human Resources

For-profit education company Nobel Learning Centers (NLC), has agreed to settle charges it excluded disabled children from its programs in violation of the ADA.

NLC operates 180 private schools—from preschool through high school—in 15 states, including Ohio. It runs several Enchanted Care Learning Centers in the Columbus area.

Although the settlement involves ADA public-access issues, it has important implications for employers. As an HR specialist, you may be the one staff member in your organization who really understands the ADA. Make it your business to understand the whole law.

Under the settlement, which ended a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit, NLC will pay $215,000 to children who alleged they were excluded because of their disabilities. Among those disabilities: autism, Down syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and global developmental delays.

In addition to the money, NLC agreed to adopt and implement a formal policy to ensure that it will operate its programs, facilities and services in a nondiscriminatory manner to comply with Title III of the ADA. It agreed to publicize the policy to its principals, teachers and other staff at all NLC facilities and post it on all NLC related web sites.

NLC also agreed to avoid all unnecessary inquiries into students’ health or disability status.

Note: This case illustrates that the ADA applies to customers as well as employees. As you update your ADA policies, consider them, too.

Check physical areas where disabled customers could possibly enter. Make sure aisles are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, restrooms are accessible and that fire and emergency systems have both auditory and visual alarms.

If you have to make physical changes to a building, tax credits and deductions can help offset some of the cost.

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