Clarifies the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability under the New York state human rights law in the areas of employment, public accommodations and government services to be consistent with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the current policies and practices of the division of human rights.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to clarifying the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability in the area of government services
PURPOSE: To clarify the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability under the New York State Human Rights Law in the area of government services to be consistent with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the current policies and practices of the Division of Human Rights.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one sets forth the legislature's intent to clarify the existing provisions of the Human Rights Law relative to prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act and current state policies and practices.
Section two adds a new subdivision 31 to Sec. 292 of the Executive Law to define the term "public entity". Section three amends Sec. 296 of the executive law by adding two new subdivisions, 3-c and 3-d.
New subdivision 3-c provides that it is an unlawful discriminatory practice for a public entity to exclude from or deny any individual the benefits of a public entity program, service or benefit solely on the basis of that individual's disability, provided the individual meets essential eligibility requirements of the program, service or benefit in question.
New subdivision 3-d provides that it is an unlawful discriminatory practice for a public entity to refuse to make reasonable modifications in rules, policies or practices or to remove architectural/ communication or transportation barriers or to refuse to provide auxiliary aids and services which are necessary to allow eligible people with disabilities to receive services or participate in programs or activities provided by the public entity.
EXISTING LAW: Section 296 of the Executive Law currently prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in a broad range of areas and activities but does not explicitly incorporate many of the protections afforded people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
JUSTIFICATION: Beginning with the adoption of Chapter 988 of the laws of 1974, true nondiscrimination requires more than merely refraining from offensive conduct. In some instances, there are certain modest actions which must be undertaken to assure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in certain programs, services and activities.
Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by, public entities, which are defined to include the same entities as covered by this proposal, plus certain transportation providers already covered under other sections of current state law. For nearly twenty years, similar requirements have been applied to any entity, including state and local government, which receives federal funds pursuant to the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Given the scope of the 1973 mandate and the extent to which state and local government continue to receive federal funds, the additional impact of this requirement should be minimal. Although Section 296 of the Executive Law already prohibits such discrimination by public entities as employers and operators of public facilities, this measure will clarify two key obligations of governmental entities providing benefits, programs or services.
First, it will be clear that prohibitions against discrimination extend beyond employment and use of facilities to services, programs and activities. This distinction becomes critical in the case of individuals who may be afforded full access to a facility but are denied the opportunity to participate in a program offered in that facility because of their disability. Second, the amendment will be consistent with comparable federal requirements and will clarify the obligation of the public entity to take reasonable actions to assure that the rules, policies or practices by which services, programs or activities are administered and that the existence of architectural, communication or transportation barriers or the absence of auxiliary aids and services do not prevent the participation of eligible people with disabilities in public entity services, programs and activities.
Given the minimal resources which the federal government is expected to devote to ADA enforcement, the availability of state enforcement mechanisms through the Human Rights Law is essential to assure adequate protections against discrimination on the basis of disability in the delivery of services by public entities.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2007-08 S.2172 - Referred to Investigations and Government Operations 2005-06: S.3921 - Reported to Senate Floor, A.6321 - Passed Assembly 2003-04: S.5803 - Referred to Rules, A.5468 - Passed Assembly
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Given the existence of comparable federal requirements and the extent to which state law already addresses most facets of the proposal, no additional fiscal support should be required for implementation.
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, next succeeding becoming law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1646 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 11, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. CARLUCCI -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Investigations and Govern- ment Operations AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to clarifying the scope of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability in the area of government services THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Legislative intent. With the enactment of chapter 988 of the laws of 1974, the legislature began to extend to people with disa- bilities guarantees that such individuals would not be discriminated against on the basis of their disability in employment, use of public accommodations and in a broad range of other areas and activities subject to the requirements of the human rights provisions of the execu- tive law. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act, enacted in 1990, has extended similar protections throughout the nation. While current state requirements are consistent with those adopted by the Congress in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal statute explicitly includes a number of requirements which are implicit in state law. The legislature adopts this measure to reiterate this state's commitment to assuring people with disabilities full access under state law to all of the rights and remedies to which they are entitled under the Americans with Disabilities Act, consistent with current policies and practices of the state division of human rights, and to continue New York's preemi- nent role as a leader in guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities to all of its citizens. S 2. Section 292 of the executive law is amended by adding a new subdivision 35 to read as follows: 35. THE TERM "PUBLIC ENTITY" MEANS THE STATE OR ANY POLITICAL SUBDIVI- SION THEREOF AND ANY DEPARTMENT, AGENCY, SPECIAL PURPOSE DISTRICT OR OTHER INSTRUMENTALITY OF THE STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD01081-01-1 S. 1646 2
S 3. Section 296 of the executive law is amended by adding two new subdivisions 3-c and 3-d to read as follows: 3-C. IT SHALL BE AN UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICE FOR ANY PUBLIC ENTITY TO EXCLUDE A PERSON WITH A DISABILITY WHO MEETS THE ESSENTIAL ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FROM PARTICIPATION IN OR DENY SUCH PERSON THE BENEFITS OF SERVICES, PROGRAMS, OR ACTIVITIES OF A PUBLIC ENTITY SOLELY BY REASON OF SUCH DISABILITY OR TO SUBJECT SUCH PERSON WITH A DISABILITY TO DISCRIMINATION BY ANY SUCH ENTITY. 3-D. IT SHALL BE AN UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICE FOR A PUBLIC ENTITY TO REFUSE TO MAKE REASONABLE MODIFICATIONS TO RULES, POLICIES, OR PRACTICES, TO REFUSE TO REMOVE ARCHITECTURAL, COMMUNICATION, OR TRANS- PORTATION BARRIERS, OR TO REFUSE TO PROVIDE AUXILIARY AIDS AND SERVICES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO SUPPORT SERVICES FOR PEOPLE WITH IMPAIRED HEARING OR VISION AND ACQUISITION OR MODIFICATION OF EQUIPMENT OR DEVICES, TO A PERSON WITH A DISABILITY WHO MEETS THE ESSENTIAL ELIGIBIL- ITY REQUIREMENTS WHICH WILL ALLOW SUCH AN INDIVIDUAL TO RECEIVE SERVICES OR PARTICIPATE IN PROGRAMS OR ACTIVITIES PROVIDED BY A PUBLIC ENTITY IN THE MOST INTEGRATED MANNER POSSIBLE. S 4. This act shall take effect on the first of January next succeed- ing the date on which it shall have become a law.