Businesses and government agencies should heed the reminder of the importance of providing proper accommodation from a new Justice Department settlement with Harris County, Texas announced today.
Another in a lengthy series of disability accommodation enforcement settlements, the agreement resolves a Justice Department lawsuit alleging that Harris County violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide an accessible voting program to voters with disabilities, including accessible polling places.
Harris County’s voting program—the third largest in the country—includes over 750 polling places. The Justice Department’s complaint alleges that many polling places in Harris County have architectural barriers—such as steep ramps, gaps in sidewalks and walkways, and locked gates along the route barring pedestrian access—that make them inaccessible to voters with mobility impairments or voters who are blind or visually impaired.
Under the agreement, Harris County will create and implement policies, practices, and procedures to bring its voting program into compliance with the ADA, including creating an effective system for selecting accessible facilities for polling places, surveying polling place facilities for accessibility barriers, procuring and implementing temporary accessibility remedies during elections, providing effective curbside voting, and hiring Subject Matter Experts to provide technical assistance and training to the County as well as provide reports to the parties on the County’s compliance with the agreement.
The Harris County settlement is the latest of many enforcement actions including many with substantial recoveries of damages and/or penalties.
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The author of this update, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is widely recognized for her nearly 30 years’ work with health care, insurance and financial services and other public and private organizations, publications, presentations, advocacy and other work on cybersecurity and other data and privacy protection and compliance, risk management and investigation and mitigation.
A Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation; Former Chair of the RPTE Employee Benefits and Compensation Committee, a current Co-Chair of the Committee, and the former Chair of its Welfare Benefit and its Defined Compensation Plan Committees and former RPTE Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Council (JCEB) Representative, Ms. Stamer is a Martindale-Hubble “AV-Preeminent” practicing attorney and management consultant, author, public policy advocate, author and lecturer repeatedly recognized for her 30 plus years’ of work and pragmatic thought leadership, publications and training on leadership and management, and compliance concerns as among the “Top Rated Labor & Employment Lawyers in Texas,” a “Legal Leader,” a “Top Woman Lawyer” and with other awards by LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell®; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the field of “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: ERISA & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, in International Who’s Who of Professionals and with numerous other awards and distinctions.
Highly valued for her ability to meld her extensive legal and industry knowledge and experience with her talents as an insightful innovator and pragmatic problem solver, Ms. Stamer provides legal, operational and strategic advice, representational and coaching to organizations and their management.
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Before founding her current law firm, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C., Ms. Stamer practiced law as a partner with several prominent national and international law firms for more than 10 years before founding Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C. to practice her unique brand of “Solutions law™” and to devote more time to the pragmatic policy and system reform, community education and innovation, and other health system improvement efforts of her PROJECT COPE: the Coalition on Patient Empowerment initiative.
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