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Class-action status granted in disability discrimination case

A judge has granted class-action status in a lawsuit that accuses Laguna Beach of discriminating against disabled people who are also homeless, according to the Los Angeles Times. The lawsuit was filed in 2015 by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California. Multiple rulings were issued this week by a judge in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana.

The judge ruled that the lawsuit can be now be given class-action status for three plaintiffs who represent "all homeless persons who reside or will reside in Laguna Beach who have a mental and/or physical disability" per the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

The lawsuit is a challenge to the practice of Laguna Beach issuing citations to disabled homeless people who lodge or sleep in public places and who cannot gain access to the emergency shelter local to them, which is the Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL). This shelter is an overnight location in Laguna Canyon that has 45 beds and provides meals, laundry and other services to the homeless.

The ACLU said the following in explaining the lawsuit: "The lawsuit will have a broader impact with the representative class rather than a few individuals."

The plaintiffs claim that Laguna Beach violated protections under the eighth and 14th Amendments of the Constitution. The lawsuit claims the city also violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The judge who issued the ruling wrote: "There are genuine issues of material facts about whether plaintiffs were excluded from, discriminated against or denied benefits from the ASL by reason of their disabilities. And there are genuine issues of material facts about whether modifications to the ASL are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability."

Disability discrimination is illegal throughout the country, not just in California. An experienced employment law attorney in Sherman Oaks can answer all of your questions surrounding this type of discrimination and review your case.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Judge grants class-action status in lawsuit accusing Laguna Beach of discriminating against disabled homeless people," Bryce Alderton, June 27, 2017

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