Lane v. Kitzhaber, two years later

Disability Rights Oregon Blog, Jan. 23, 2013

DRO logoThis Saturday marks two years since the filing of the Lane v. Kitzhaber case.

Filed on January 25, 2012, the case asserts the right of 2700 Oregonians with I/DD who are segregated in sheltered workshops to choose employment services in the most appropriate integrated setting.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of 2700 individuals with intellectual disabilities who receive services in sheltered workshops who have not been offered a real opportunity to choose integrated, supported employment services in the community.

Those individuals are asserting their right under the “integration mandate” of the ADA to choose employment services in the least segregated, appropriate setting.

It asks the court to declare that the state is violating the ADA and Rehabilitation Act by their needless segregation of class members in sheltered workshops and failing to provide them supported employment services for which they are eligible.  It also seeks an order requiring the state to provide supported employment services to all qualified class members, consistent with their individual needs.

Fifteen months after the case was filed, Governor John Kitzhaber issued an Executive Order that directs state agencies to take steps to achieve “integrated employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, consistent with their abilities and choices…”  While the Order has a positive goal, it makes no promises to individuals in sheltered workshops that their rights will be honored.

The Executive Order has:

  • No clear definition of supported employment
  • No required minimum hours of integrated work
  • No required minimum wage
  • No required community integration
  • No required service availability
  • No required schedule of implementation
  • No required effectiveness in job placement
  • No required funding

There has been confusion among some in the I/DD community about what the case is seeking and how it differs from other changes driven by the Executive Order, Medicaid, rate restructuring and legislative funding.  Some go so far as to mistakenly claim that the intent of Lane v. Kitzhaber is to deny choice of services to individuals with I/DD.   In fact, the case was filed because individuals with I/DD have been denied the meaningful choice of employment services in Oregon for years.

Lane v. Kitzhaber does not ask for an order that sheltered workshops be closed or that individuals be denied funding or supports.  It does ask that the right of individuals to receive employment services in the most appropriate integrated setting be honored by the state.

Trial of the case is now scheduled for July, 2015.

From the Disability Rights Oregon web site –

Lane v. Kitzhaber: Class Action Lawsuit Seeks an End to Segregated Sheltered Workshops

Advocates for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court on January 25, 2012 challenging Oregon’s failure to provide supported employment services to more than 2,300 state residents who are segregated in sheltered workshops where they perform mundane tasks, such as folding UPS bags. The lawsuit charges state officials with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by confining individuals with disabilities to segregated settings where they have little – if any – interaction with non-disabled peers. Moreover, they are paid far below the state’s minimum wage of $8.80 for doing rote tasks that offer no training, no skills, and no advancement.

Press Coverage

Court Rulings

May 17, 2012: Oregon Court Rules that the ADA Integration Mandate Applies to Employment Services