Nation’s First Statewide Settlement Agreement to Ensure Employment and Integrated Day Services for Individuals with Disabilities

On April 8th, 2014, the Justice Department entered into the nation’s first statewide settlement agreement with the State of Rhode Island supporting the civil rights of individuals with disabilities, stating that this group is unnecessarily segregated in facility-based day programs and workshops.  The settlement agreement came as a resolve to the Civil Rights Division’s findings announced on January 6th, 2014, which were a part of an Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) Olmstead investigation.  That investigation focused on whether Rhode Island’s day activity service is over-relying on segregated settings, such as faculty-based day programs and sheltered workshops, while excluding integrative alternatives, including supported employment and integrated day services.

The settlement agreement will resolve the violations of the ADA for approximately 3,250 residents of Rhode Island with intellectual and developmental disabilities (“I/DD”).  The State will provide supported employment to approximately 2,000 individuals: at least 950 individuals currently in facility-based non-work programs, at least 700 individuals currently in sheltered workshops and approximately 300-350 students leaving high school.  Additionally, the State will provide transition services to approximately 1,250 youth between the ages of 14 and 21, ensuring that this group has access to a variety of transition, supported employment and vocational rehabilitation services.  The Justice Department and the State of Rhode Island jointly filed the settlement in federal district court, requesting that it be entered as a court-enforceable Consent Decree.  You may find the Fact Sheet about Proposed Consent Decree here.

For more information on the ADA and other employment-related federal and state regulations, you may contact Dana Perminas at dperminas@messerstrickler.com or at (312) 334-3474.