August 2009 Coach's Quiz
We have given you seven rules on how to avoid discrimination complaints by individuals with disabilities that are not obvious or apparent. Now let's look at how the rules might apply in the real world. Take the COACH's Quiz to see what you have learned.
INSTRUCTIONS: Each of the following questions has only one correct answer. On a separate piece of paper, write down the number of each question, followed by the answer you think is correct—for example, 1. b, 2.a, and so on.
And this month, there's an extra credit assignment: Judge for Yourself, a description of an actual court case. Test yourself on whether you think the community should be held liable, and then check the summary of the court's ruling to see how much you have learned.
The correct answers (with explanations) follow the quiz. Good luck!
When screening applicants, it is a violation of fair housing law if you ask any disability-related questions. True or false?
Whenever a resident asks you to make an exception to your rules, then you should treat it as a request for a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a disability—even if the resident does not have any apparent disability. True or false?
If a resident breaches his lease by repeatedly threatening his neighbors, you may not evict him if he has a disability. True or false?
EXTRA CREDIT: JUDGE FOR YOURSELF
A resident and her husband had lived in a community for several years before the husband died after a long battle with cancer. Soon after, the community was alerted to housekeeping problems and attempted to work with the resident to alleviate the situation; however, the problems persisted throughout the year.
In anticipation of an upcoming inspection of her unit, the resident became distraught and was hospitalized for a psychiatric condition. She was released into her daughter's care just before the inspection, which revealed fire hazards resulting from poor housekeeping. At an informal meeting, the resident said that she was “progressing in her depression,” and the community agreed to reinspect the unit a month later. Despite some progress in cleaning the unit, the resident failed the second inspection.
During the eviction proceedings, the resident for the first time requested a reasonable accommodation for a disability. She asked the community to put the eviction proceedings on hold while she received mental health counseling to address the housekeeping problems and to give her a list of the problems to be resolved, but the community refused to consider offers for documentation related to her depression. After a hearing, the judge ordered her eviction, ruling that the community did not know about the resident's disability and that she did not request a reasonable accommodation.
On appeal, how should the court rule?
Coach's Answers & Explanations
Correct answer: b
Reason: Rule #2 applies here:
Rule #2: Curb Curiosity About Disability
In general, the FHA bars communities from asking applicants about whether they or a family member have a disability or about the nature and severity of such a disability. However, there are certain disability-related questions that you may ask during the screening process, provided you ask all applicants, regardless of whether they have a disability. For example, you may ask applicants whether they may be qualified for units that are available only to individuals with a disability (or particular type of disability) or for a priority available only to individuals with disabilities.
Correct answer: a
Reason: Rules #3 and #4 apply here:
Rule #3: Listen for Accommodation Requests
Rule #4: Ask for Information When Disability Is Not Obvious
According to HUD, an applicant is making a request for a reasonable accommodation whenever he makes clear that he is requesting an exception, change, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service because of a disability. Do not ignore the request simply because an applicant or resident does not appear to have a disability. Treat the request seriously and ask for disability-related information, if necessary, to verify that the person meets the FHA's definition of having a disability—that is, he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Correct answer: b
Reason: Rule #7 applies here:
Rule #7: Enforce Rules to Prevent Harassment, Maintain Safety
You may take action—including eviction—against a resident with a disability whose tenancy would amount to a “direct threat” to the health or safety of other individuals or result in substantial physical damage to the property of others unless the threat can be eliminated or significantly reduced by reasonable accommodation. That means you must determine whether the resident is a “direct threat” and whether anything can be done to resolve the matter, before evicting him.
ANSWER: JUDGE FOR YOURSELF
In this case, involving a resident in a public housing community in Pennsylvania, the state court reversed the lower court's decision and ordered a new trial.
The court ruled that the resident proved that she had depression, which was a disability under the FHA, and that the community knew or should have known that the resident had disability—even before the attorney's request to put the eviction proceedings on hold. The court said that she also showed that she requested a reasonable accommodation and that the community refused her request.
To win her discrimination case, however, the resident also had to prove that she was unable to maintain her unit as required by the lease because of her disability. Because the judge erroneously prevented her from presenting evidence on this issue, the court sent the case back for further proceedings [Lebanon County Housing Authority v. Landeck, PA, February 2009].
See The Lesson For This Quiz
|Preventing Claims From Individuals With Nonobvious Disabilities|