Lane v. Brown was filed in January 2012. Oregon’s Employment First Policy had been adopted in September 2008 but there had been little progress toward making employment a reality for the vast majority of Oregonians with IDD. On April 10, 2013, Governor Kitzhaber signed Executive Order 13-04 (which was later replaced by EO 15-01) and appointed an Employment First Coordinator who reported directly to the Department of Human Services Director rather than to the Directors of DD or VR Services. Oregon was swirling with activity with a high-level Stakeholders’ policy group to oversee Employment First, the creation of a State Employment First team, and pages of documents including an Integrated Employment Plan, Quality Assurance Plan, Outreach Plan and streams of data.
Yet, the Advocates including Oregon APSE, continued to stress that policy and services were not enough. That only quality indicators of practice and true integrated employment outcomes were the intent of the ADA and Olmstead.
Although initially focused on sheltered workshop participants, transition students became another focus as they were often slated for the sheltered workshops. This perspective was emphasized as the Department of Justice joined Lane v. Brown. In addition, related federal policy including WIOA, the HCBS Final Settings Rule, and IDEA were seen to have a significant impact on the implementation of Lane v. Brown.
In December of 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon approved a settlement agreement in Lane v. Brown. This class-action lawsuit charged the state of Oregon with violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision by segregating people with disabilities in sheltered workshops rather than providing services and supports for them to pursue community-based employment. In sheltered workshops they were often paid (legally) sub-minimum wages and had little or no interaction with non-disabled people.
Oregon APSE applauds this settlement, which will positively “impact approximately 7,000 Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who can and want to work in typical employment settings in the community” according to Disabilty Rights Oregon. We are committed to working with our partner organizations, as well as individuals and families, to further the goals of this settlement and achieve community-based employment for all Oregonians with I/DD who desire it.
January 2017 Lane v. Brown Update
The Independent Reviewer and the lawyers are still negotiating details of the settlement with little news of major developments seeping out. Oregon APSE observes that more Oregonians with IDD are getting jobs, a demonstration peer mentoring employment project has launched, schools and family networks are engaged in Employment First, the transformation of sheltered workshops is steady, but painstakingly slow, and providers are getting basic training and working feverishly to keep the pace. That is mostly good news.
But looking deeper, many people especially those with more challenging support needs that require customized jobs, are not getting employed. With competing demands created by the K-Plan, Service Coordinators and Personal Agents, have little time to learn the specialized details of employment in order to competently advise their customers. Individuals have Career Development Plans, but they rarely have the individual attention that was sought through Lane v. Brown.
Providers are trying hard, but for the vast majority turnover and the lack of training beyond the basics keeps their staffing at a precarious place. This seriously undermines their ability to provide services to those with the most challenging support needs. For the experienced and well respected providers, customers are often waiting months. And, this is on top of the wait time to get the necessary paperwork through the County, Brokerage, and VR.
Oregon APSE is concerned with the progress of the implementation of Lane v. Brown and integrated employment and thus invite our readers to share stories of what is happening in their communities.
This page contains resources and links to information on the lawsuit and the settlement. Please check back frequently for updates, and contact us if you have any questions.
Settlement Overview (Disability Rights Oregon)
Settlement Agreement (Center for Public Representation)
United States Department of Justice Press Release
Oregon Employment First posts updates on what’s happening currently with the lawsuit and Executive Order implementation, along with useful information and links: