Yesterday the Supreme Court of New York ruled in the case against the NY Taxi and Limousine Commission for failing to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements of public access to cabs.
The court decided against the disabled by stating that the law requires that the commission hire the disabled but in their belief the law doesn’t require then to carry the disabled or build vehicles to accommodate us. The judges wrote in their decision that the law puts the onus on employment not on accommodation for the customer.
In the law legal precedent is everything. Precedent means if you sue someone the difference between winning and losing is whether someone else before you sued for the same reason. Did they win? Because if the bones and legal points of the two cases are the same the judge uses the previous case to decide yours.
Why are you giving us a legal lesson? Because this case has the potential to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act to its core. The precedent has been set. The Supreme Court of NY has said the law means you have to hire the disabled but you don’t have to provide service, so diners can claim they have a disabled dishwasher but no guide dogs allowed. Theatres can say the cleaner is blind and therefore they are compliant but no damn wheelchairs are allowed. Employers everywhere can say we hire a wheelchair using receptionist, but our department store doesn’t have to provide any concessions anywhere for the customer. Once the precedent is set in the highest court in the land we may as well dial back the calendar to the day before the Americans with Disabilities Act was ever declared law. I know I have an old sign and a jar of pencils somewhere. I better dust them off and find a corner because if this decision is allowed to stand no part of society will be forced to be compliant anymore because this ruling will tell them that we can’t beat them in court. We need to get organized, get angry and get this abomination to our rights changed. The ADA needs an overhaul by a legal scholar. There are just too many loopholes.
Of course Bloomberg applauded the decision. He has made no secret of his hate for the ADA and of his opinion that we the disabled should be seen and not heard. Well I will be seen and will be heard and heard damn loud. Hope you will too.