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Civil Rights Attorney in Birmingham, Alabama

If you have been denied access on the basis of disability, I can help you. As the federal civil rights laws that apply to these situations typically provide for attorney’s fees if you win, I typically do not charge you to handle such matters. Disability discrimination comes in many flavors, and the laws that protect you are voluminous and complicated. I enjoy making these cases simple for the court to rule in your favor.

Here are some examples of disability discrimination that I routinely handle:

Architectural Barriers

There is no grandfather clause in the Americans with Disabilities Act. It does not matter whether the building in question is old. It does not matter if the building in question is historic. It does not matter if the facility is privately owned or owned by a local government. There are standards that apply to ensure access to people with disabilities. I see the following typical architectural barriers routinely:

  • A curb or stairs with no ramp or directional signage to indicate an alternate accessible route

  • A ramp that is too steep

  • A ramp that lacks edge protection

  • A lack of accessible parking (or improperly configured accessible parking, such as a lack of adjacent access aisles, extreme slopes in parking spaces and access aisles, lack of raised signage to designate accessible parking)

  • A lack of a firm, slip resistant accessible route. (loose gravel, or a grassy field, for example, is not firm and slip resistant and cannot serve as an accessible route)

  • A lack of grab bars at toilets

  • A lack of wheelchair maneuvering clearance at doors

  • A lack of knee and toe clearance at tables, sinks, water fountains, etc.

  • Operating controls that are too high for a wheelchair user

  • A lack of unobstructed sight lines from designated accessible seating positions in a performance center, stadium, arena, or theater

  • A lack of wheelchair accessible hotel rooms

  • A lack of wheelchair accessible hospital patient rooms

  • A website that allows able bodied people to buy accessible concert tickets or accessible hotel accommodations online but directs people with disabilities to call and does not allow accessible accommodations to be purchased online

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Communication Barriers

People with hearing and vision impairments are entitled to effective communications in public spaces. This can require Braille, raised lettering and tactile symbols on signs for people with vision impairments. It can require visual alarms, assistive listening devices, captioning and interpretive services for people with hearing impairments. I see the following situations frequently:

  • Deaf patients are not provided with effective communication auxiliary aids and services at their doctor’s office or the hospital

  • Employers do not provide auxiliary aids and services as necessary for employees with hearing impairments to perform the essential functions of their jobs or to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment

Employment Discrimination

Your employer may be required to offer you reasonable accommodations to the extent necessary, in light of your disability, for you to perform the essential functions of your job. At a bare minimum, your employer must engage in an interactive process with you to determine whether your requested accommodation is reasonable and necessary for you to perform your essential job duties. If your employer determines that your requested accommodation is unduly burdensome, they must explore other options for providing reasonable accommodations necessary for you to perform your job. If you believe you have been harmed by disability discrimination at work, you should contact me as soon as possible as there are very short time frames involved with filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This is a process that is required before you can file suit to enforce your civil rights. I can assist you with your disability discrimination claim with the EEOC and thereafter. You only have 180 days from the last act of disability discrimination to file your charge of discrimination with the EEOC, so it is imperative not to delay. I am happy to discuss your situation and to advise you of your options.

Housing Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in covered multi-family dwellings. If your landlord refuses to make reasonable modifications to polices and procedures necessary for you to enjoy your dwelling, I can assist you. Similarly, if your apartment was constructed after March 13, 1991, it was required to have been constructed in manner that is readily adaptable to provide access to a wheelchair user. If you believe your apartment is not so constructed, or if your landlord refuses to allow you to make modifications necessary for you to use and enjoy your dwelling, I can help. Here are some situations I have seen in the past:

  • A Landlord periodically charges a tenant with a disability for damage to her apartment caused by her wheelchair in ordinary daily use

  • A Landlord refuses to rent to a tenant with an assistance animal (both service animals and emotional support animals are protected by the Fair Housing Act)

  • The common areas at an apartment complex such as the rental office, the laundry room, the swimming pool, the trash dumpsters and the mailboxes are not located along an accessible route

  • Ground floor apartments have no on-grade, accessible entrance but have a step or steps to enter

Education Discrimination

Children with disabilities are entitled to a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It is essential that if your child has a disability that you are prepared to advocate for your child at the Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. Parents may bring an advocate to the IEP meeting to assist with this process.

Transportation Discrimination

Transportation is essential to integration into society, and multiple laws govern the accessibility of travel, depending upon the situation. For example, an individual with a disability who relies on a wheelchair for mobility and is otherwise capable of riding the fixed route bus system still requires that bus stops and connecting sidewalks are wheelchair accessible. If you cannot access the bus due to the lack of curb ramps, I can assist as the ADA requires accessible sidewalks and bus stops as well as accessible features on fixed route buses. Air travel, on the other hand, is covered by the Air Carrier Access Act. Here are some common situations I have assisted with concerning transportation:

  • A bus driver fails to secure a wheelchair and passenger such that the passenger is thrown from her chair during the ride and is injured

  • Bus stops along the fixed route system are no located in wheelchair accessible areas and there is no accessible route to enter or leave the bus stop by wheelchair

  • Fixed route bus drivers routinely fail to stop at bus stops to pick up a wheelchair user

  • When boarding a plane, a passenger is improperly transferred from a wheelchair to an airplane aisle seat and suffers a radial tib-fib fracture in the process (I have seen this on more than one occasion)

  • Airline employees partially disassemble a power wheelchair for a flight and are incapable of reassembling it in working order for the passenger’s upon arrival at the final destination

If you find yourself the victim of disability discrimination, whether in a public accommodation, a government program or service, in employment, in your home, in education or in transportation, please contact me so I can be of assistance to you.

In many circumstances, there are administrative agencies that may have concurrent jurisdiction with the courts to help resolve your situation. For example, if your public university is discriminating against you, then you may also be able to file a claim with the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education. Similarly, if it’s your landlord who is discriminating against you, you may be able to file your claim with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In certain situations, it may be advantageous to file an administrative complaint in lieu of a private lawsuit. I am happy to discuss your unique situation to determine your options and to advise you accordingly.

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