Academic journal article The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law

Gimme Shelter?: Lane V. Kitzhaber and Its Impact on Integrated Employment Services for People with Disabilities

Academic journal article The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law

Gimme Shelter?: Lane V. Kitzhaber and Its Impact on Integrated Employment Services for People with Disabilities

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") mandates the elimination of discrimination against persons with disabilities.1 Its integration mandate requires public entities to administer services in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of a qualified individual with a disability.2 Despite the clear intent of that mandate, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities are unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops.3

A sheltered workshop is a segregated place of employment that either employs persons with disabilities or allows persons with disabilities to work separately from others.4 The original philosophy behind sheltered workshops was to enable men with severe physical impairments to contribute to society.5 While proponents of sheltered workshops view them as fostering the goals of rehabilitation, the segregation of people with disabilities is an outdated concept that violates the guiding principles of the ADA.6

The State of Oregon developed its Employment First Policy in 2008, which strives to expand access to integrated employment settings to individuals with disabilities.7 Despite this policy, Oregon's progress in its use of supported employment services has slowed while it has increased its dependence on sheltered workshops.8 In response, eight plaintiffs with intellectual or developmental disabilities filed suit against the State of Oregon, alleging that they and thousands of others are unnecessarily isolated in sheltered workshops despite their expressed desire to work in integrated employment.9

This Comment argues that Lane v. Kitzhaber correctly established that the integration mandate of the ADA applies to employment services provided by public entities.10 Part II examines the ADA, reviews institutionalization in Olmstead v. L.C. ex rel. Zimring, and discusses Title II's application to employment in Zimmerman v. Oregon Department of Justice.11 Part II then introduces Lane v. Kitzhaber.12 Part III argues that the protections provided by the ADA require the provision of services by a public entity to be in the most integrated setting; therefore, Oregon's reliance on sheltered workshops in Lane v. Kitzhaber violates Title II of the ADA.13 Part IV recommends that states should endeavor to establish integrated employment service options for people with disabilities to encourage community integration.14 Lastly, Part V concludes that a state's dependence on sheltered workshops violates the intent and purpose of the ADA, and that states must follow the integration mandate set forth in the Act.15

II. BACKGROUND

A. Origins of Sheltered Workshops

Prior to the twentieth century, society generally considered persons with disabilities "defective" and in need of institutionalization to survive.16 States and charities began to introduce rehabilitation programs in the mid- 1800s as ways to provide therapeutic treatment and vocational training to "cripples."17 First developed as a vocational training program, the sheltered workshop is a segregated place of employment that employs persons with disabilities or where people with disabilities work separately from others.18 The Perkins Institute for the Blind, founded in 1840, served as the model for sheltered workshops as centers of employment for persons with disabilities.19

While the objective of these rehabilitation programs was the elimination of dependency, the philosophy behind sheltered workshops was to help men with severe physical impairments contribute to society, in segregated settings.20 Early sheltered workshops only focused on the employment and rehabilitation of people with severe physical disabilities; people with intellectual disabilities were not considered employable.21 Today, sheltered workshops are still seen by proponents as fostering the goals of rehabilitation.22

B. Federal Disability Rights Legislation and Statutes

1. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

The ADA federalized anti-discrimination laws for people with disabilities. …

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