Two Year Anniversary of Lane v. Kitzhaber

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.

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

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 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.

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