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Is Nevada Governor Sandoval’s Quasi-Judicial Agency: Cherry Picking ADA Accommodations?
From:
National Toxic Encephalopathy Foundation National Toxic Encephalopathy Foundation
Las Vegas, NV
Monday, May 12, 2014

 

It is common knowledge that more and more of the population are becoming reactive to fragrances and chemicals in the environment, particularly indoors.

Major corporations are now providing fragrance-free versions of their products in order to accommodate this increasing demographic.

Schools, government offices and businesses have now instituted fragrance-free policies. The Center for Disease Control has taken the lead. Every building and office they own, rent or lease is now prohibiting fragrances and other chemicals in order to provide a healthier environment for their employees. [1]

Lawsuits have been filed and damages awarded over this very 'common' failure to accommodate. 1) The City of Detroit was sued and forced to pay damages and institute a fragrance-free policy on certain floors of their buildings. [2]  (McBride v. City of Detroit). 2) In 2005, Detroit was the site for a private lawsuit between a disc jockey, Erin Weber, and a local radio station involving perfume. As in the McBride case, Weber complained about a co-worker's perfume, got no relief, then sued and won a $10.6 million verdict. The award was appealed and later brought down to $814,000. [3]

Nevada, a state that is trying to recover from the financial crisis, is now dealing with litigation and complaints filed over fragrances and lack of accommodations. The Clark County School District is being sued in federal court, MGM-Mirage et al along with AromaSys are being sued in district court over their failure to enact ADA accommodations.

Because of the ADA, businesses, and especially government agencies, should strive to achieve full compliance rather than dealing with the ramifications.

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC), a 'quasi-judicial' entity, has been reported to the state Attorney General's office for violation of the open meeting law and federal ADA regulations. The Governor, a former Federal court judge and state Attorney General, has not made sure his state offices are in full federal ADA compliance.

Initially, the PUC's General Counsel, Carolyn Tanner, adamantly denied and ignored the request like a recalcitrant child regarding accommodations. The PUC subsequently issued a notice addressing the fragrance issue and the ADA. [4] From what was presented in this article it appears that the PUC graciously complied with the request. In fact, the accommodation occurred only after a highly contentious interaction between the named parties. "One such person's request was asked for and granted by the Public Utilities Commission. Well, we received a request from a member of the public to ask the Commission to ask visitors if they could refrain from using fragrances and other scented products," says Peter Kostes, of the PUC." [5]

The alternative offered involves the utilization of an overflow room. The PUC has been notified the room in its Las Vegas office is 'sick' because of mold.  The odiferous mold and mildew emissions are so problematic to PUC's employees that they spray Lysol.  This suggestion would exacerbate a medical condition/disability under the guise of an accommodation.

Nevada statute requires state government buildings to be LEED Certified.  While the PUC office in question is LEED Certified, it is the lowest certification through LEED.

Because of the PUC's General Counsel's ad nauseam refusal to have the mold addressed, required building owner contact by the complainant to deal with the problem correctly.

The PUC is under the misguided impression that they can decide which accommodations they will provide, while also providing an unhealthy environment for both the public and the disabled.

Since 2012, NV Governor Sandoval, as have his predecessors, has issued proclamations to recognize May as National Toxic Encephalopathy & Chemical Injury Awareness Month (TECI). Two of the proclaims were: "1. WHEREAS, the health of the entire population of the State of Nevada and the United States is at risk from chemical exposures that can lead to illnesses that may be preventable through reduction or avoidance of chemicals in the air, water and food in both the indoor and outdoor environments; and, 2. WHEREAS, reasonable accommodations and information about and recognition of TECI can provide opportunities for people with this disability to enjoy access to work, schooling and public facilities, where they can contribute their skills, ideas, creativity, abilities, and knowledge." [6,7,8]

Governor Sandoval is desperately trying to attract businesses to the state, expounding green, environmental concerns, yet one of his executive branch agencies is water damaged with allegations of it being a 'sick' building from mold and/or mildew.

This office is being promoted as an ADA accommodation with no concerns for its indoor air quality.

Placing a disabled member of the public in a room that they have expressed is environmentally problematic for them, as an accommodation, is tantamount to having someone using a wheelchair going up a cobblestone ramp. There is a ramp, therefore they complied, this by any means can't be conceived as removing a barrier and complying with the ADA's intent.

We reached out to Governor Sandoval's campaign manager and his press secretary, the press secretary refused to respond to the contact.

Next release: Retaliation by the Nevada PUC for being forced to accommodate under the ADA.

References.

[1]  http://www.national-toxic-encephalopathy-foundations.org/cdcff.pdf

[2]  http://www.onpointnews.com/docs/mcbride_settlement.pdf

[3]  http://www.onpointnews.com/NEWS/Scents-Alive-Perfume-Allergy-Case-Settles-for-$100K.html

[4]  http://www.national-toxic-encephalopathy-foundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/emailffnotice.pdf

[5]  http://www.kolotv.com/home/headlines/PUC-Goes-Scent-Free-258554461.html

[6]  http://gov.nv.gov/News-and-Media/Proclamations/2012/National-Toxic-Encephalopathy-and-Chemical-Injury-Awareness-Month/

[7]  http://gov.nv.gov/News-and-Media/Proclamations/2013/National-Toxic-Encephalopathy-and-Chemical-Injury-Awareness-Month/

[8]  http://gov.nv.gov/News-and-Media/Proclamations/2014/National-Toxic-Encephalopathy-and-Chemical-Injury-Awareness-Month/

 

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Angel De Fazio, BSAT
Title: President
Group: NTEF
Dateline: Las Vegas, NV United States
Direct Phone: 702.490.9677
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