At Access Living, after learning about situations that may involve discrimination based on disability, attorneys meet with potential clients, investigate their cases, and negotiate with the landlords. To avoid as much dispute as possible, attorneys initially send a letter to the owners. The letter will explain why the client may need accommodations, what the client’s rights are, and that accommodations would most likely be a reasonable expense. In doing this, Access Living hopes to receive a positive response. If none is received, the case will escalate further, sometimes to litigation.
Kim Borowicz has been a Staff Attorney at Access Living for four and half years. One of Kim’s clients, an elderly Polish-speaking woman who had severe back pain due to aging, had a parking space discrimination case that lasted for a couple of years. In this case, the woman qualified for an accessible parking space, but the parking space assigned to her condo was wedged between a brick wall and another car. The narrow spot prevented her from opening her car door all the way, and in turn, made it very difficult for her to get in and out of her car without hurting her back. To try to begin to resolve this case, Kim sent a letter to the condo association in hopes of reaching a compromise for reasonable accommodations for the woman.
Unfortunately, the condo association refused to accommodate. In May 2012, a federal lawsuit was filed. Access Living argued that the client had the right to an accessible spot, and that reasonable accommodations should be provided so that she could continue to live in her apartment. In early November, the case was settled. As a result of the settlement, the woman traded the garage parking spot in exchange for a more accessible space. When asked if the parking space settlement was considered a great victory for the disability community, Kim replied: “Definitely so. The client was so grateful to find Access Living to supply her with attorneys to resolve the issue. Access Living was the first organization to provide her with an interpreter, and an answer to her case.”
Congratulations to Kim and the Access Living Legal Department for implementing and enforcing the civil rights of people with disabilities.
Submitted by Breana Drozd, Access Living Public Relations Intern