FEDERAL MANDATE

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FYI: The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates the city take extra steps to help poor people living with AIDS access public assistance. In 1995, a number of Department of Social Services clients sued the city, arguing that the debilitating nature of AIDS made the already-arduous process of accessing public assistance impossible and charging that the city was not doing enough to help. Soon thereafter, AIDS activists won passage of a local law spelling out the city’s responsibilities on AIDS services for the poor. But the case moved forward, seeking answers to the question of whether a federal mandate for those special provisions exists. The city argued in part that people with AIDS are not discriminated against because they get the same treatment as everyone else. The appellate court however ruled that simply failing to provide “reasonable accommodation” for a disability is enough to violate the law. [6/11/03]