These cases are highlights of the Legal Action Center’s precedent-setting litigation and direct legal services to ensure fair opportunities for individuals with criminal records, HIV/AIDS, and substance use disorders.

Criminal Justice Cases

(To protect privacy, some case descriptions use fictitious names or initials.)


  • Doe v major NYC events venue (2018): Confidential individual settlement of class action lawsuit charging major New York City events venue with violating the rights of job applicants and employees with criminal records. The suit charged the venue with violating New York State’s anti-discrimination law by failing to individually assess each applicant or employee with a criminal record and violating the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act by failing to provide required notice prior to denying people jobs. The suit also charged the venue with violating the New York Fair Credit Reporting Act by failing to provide job applicants and employees with a copy of New York’s anti-discrimination law when their background screens included criminal conviction information. As a result of the suit, the venue instituted a comprehensive policy for evaluating applicants with criminal records in order to comply with anti-discrimination and background screening laws.
  • Wilson v. CoreLogic SafeRent, LLC (2018).  Confidential individual settlement of class action lawsuit charging CoreLogic SafeRent, LLC (“CoreLogic”) with producing inaccurate reports that include expunged, sealed and dismissed cases. The lead plaintiff, Abdullah Wilson, was denied housing after CoreLogic’s background report included a vacated and sealed 1995 felony conviction. Prior to settlement, Plaintiff defeated CoreLogic’s motion to dismiss.  In its ruling, the court held that CoreLogic’s reliance on New York State’s incarceration records did not, as a matter of law, constitute “reasonable procedures to ensure maximum possible accuracy.”  The ruling was the first known case in the country to hold that reliance on government records is not “reasonable” as a matter of law.  Read more here.
  • Jones v Halstead (2016). Approximately $1,000,000 settlement of class action lawsuit charging Halstead Management Company, LLC, Brown Harris Stevens LLC, and Terra Holdings, LLC (collectively “Halstead”) with violating federal Fair Credit Reporting Act by rescinding job offers based on background reports without providing applicants or employees with requisite pre-adverse action notice. The suit also charged Halstead with failing to provide applicants with a stand-alone disclosure form to ensure that they clearly understood that a background check might be performed.  The settlement resulted in a payment of $325 to each Class member, amounting to $583,375, as well settlement administration costs and attorney’s fees.  Plaintiff also defeated Halstead’s motion to dismiss both claims. Read more here.
  • Jones v Sterling Infosystems, Inc. (2016). Confidential, individual settlement of class action lawsuit charging one of the nation’s largest background screening companies (“Sterling”) with systematically violating Federal and New York State Fair Credit Reporting Acts by failing to use reasonable procedures to ensure that its reports were accurate and up to date and failing to reinvestigate complaints about inaccurate reports. The named plaintiff, Kevin A. Jones, was denied a job because a background report produced by Sterling reported criminal convictions of a different person with the name Kevin M. Jones. The suit also charged Sterling with systematically failing to provide two legally required notices that can help individuals ensure the accuracy of their reports and otherwise protect their rights. Read more here.
  • Griffin v. Sirva, Inc. (2017) Co-authored amicus brief in landmark case in which the New York Court of Appeals ruled that non-employer third parties can be held liable under the New York State Human Rights Law when they impose discriminatory criminal record hiring criteria on direct employers. The decision– which confirmed that the Human Rights Law extends to companies or people who aid and abet discrimination as well as employers who directly commit discriminatory acts – was a major victory for New Yorkers with criminal conviction histories.
  • Doe v. telecommunications company (2013-private settlement).  The New York State Division of Human Rights’ found probable cause that the defendant violated anti-discrimination laws by denying Mr. Doe a cable installer position because of criminal convictions that dated back almost 20 years.  Mr. Doe had performed identical work at a similar company without incident and had achieved high praise for that work. Following the probable cause decision, the parties reached a private settlement.
  • Doe v. national car rental company (2012). Settled case, filed in the New York City Human Rights Commission, against national car rental company that fired John Doe from a sales position due to a ten-year old drug conviction.  The employer paid monetary damages and a civil penalty and agreed to train staff on New York’s anti-discrimination laws.
  • J.R. v. national courier service (2011).  Obtained monetary settlement of a New York State Division of Human Rights proceeding challenging a national courier service with illegally terminating J.R. because of his 12-year-old conviction for sale of controlled substances even though he had been successfully performing the job for eight years.  The settlement also included an agreement by the employer to implement a new anti-discrimination policy that complied with New York’s law.
  • Boatwright v. OMRDD, 2007 WL 2176241, Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cty., 4/18/07, and Hollingshead v. OMRDD, No. 6848/07; NYLJ 1/31/08, p. 27, col. 1.  Won two Article 78 proceedings invalidating decisions by the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities to deny jobs to qualified men with decades-old criminal convictions.
  • A.R. v. AlliedBarton, NYSDHR Case No. 10115420, 2007.  Won damages and sweeping policy changes for individual denied a security officer job pursuant to AlliedBarton’s policy of not hiring security officers with felony convictions.  In a settlement agreement, AlliedBarton agreed to eliminate the felony bar from all of its New York hiring policies and job descriptions and to remove from its New York job application form an illegal question concerning arrests that did not result in a conviction.  AlliedBarton also agreed to train its New York staff about New York’s law prohibiting employment discrimination based on a criminal record.
  • Guevares v. Acxiom and Tyco et al., 06-CV-2930, E.D.N.Y. 2006.  Obtained substantial settlement of a federal lawsuit challenging Acxiom with violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act by including a sealed violation offense for disorderly conduct on the criminal background report it ran on Mr. Guevares when he applied to work at Tyco.  Tyco denied Mr. Guevares the job because of the disorderly conduct conviction.  The Settlement included an agreement by Acxiom to train its staff to stop reporting non-criminal conviction information.  Subsequent to this case, the Legal Action Center also played a critical role in New York State’s enactment of legislation that prohibits employers from considering information about sealed violation offenses, such as Mr. Guevares’.
  • In the Matter of J.M., No. B-01333/92 (Bronx Family Ct. Aug. 15, 2000).  In the first case applying amendments to New York statute implementing the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act, LAC represented foster parents in the successful adoption of their foster child.  The foster parents, who had raised the eleven-year-old child since birth, were disqualified from being foster and adoptive parents under the state statute because of the father’s criminal record.  Amendments had lifted the statutory bar to custody by individuals who had been convicted of serious crimes.  The court found that father was completely rehabilitated and provided the child with a stable and loving home.

Pre-Litigation Settlements:

Without litigation, LAC obtained jobs, monetary compensation, and/or policy changes on behalf of these individuals, who were denied employment because of their criminal records.  

  • John Doe v real estate developer (2018). Obtained significant pre-litigation monetary settlement on behalf of man who was denied employment due to employer’s illegal ban on hiring people with felony convictions.  As part of settlement, employer also instituted anti-discrimination provisions.
  • John Doe v airline (2016). Obtained restoration of employment for man who was denied a flight attendant position based on a misdemeanor conviction.
  • Jane Doe v assisted living facility (2016).  Obtained pre-litigation monetary settlement on behalf of licensed practical nurse who was terminated from nursing position based on old criminal convictions that were not job-related.
  • John Doe v. international outsourcing company (2013).  Obtained significant pre-litigation monetary settlement on behalf of man who was denied employment on the ground that the employer, an international outsourcing company, did not hire individuals with felony convictions.
  • Jane Doe v. NYC nursing home (2012).  Obtained pre-litigation settlement awarding damages for woman terminated from her home health aide position because of prostitution misdemeanor convictions received as a teenager in the 1980s.  Jane Doe had no criminal justice involvement since then, had a successful employment track record, and had been working in this position for one year.  The settlement required the employer to develop policies and procedures complying with anti-discrimination laws.  
  • Jane Doe v. unemployment agency and national employer (2012).  Obtained job and monetary damages for woman denied employment after disclosing old drug-related convictions.  Ms. Doe had successfully completed treatment years earlier and had a long history working successfully in the same type of job.

Occupational Licensure Hearings and Appeals:

The following cases typify LAC’s successful representation of New Yorkers denied occupational licenses because of their criminal records.  

  • Nursing License (2012).  John Doe, age 36, was facing a proposed denial of licensure as a Registered Nurse (“RN”) due to a very old, but serious, conviction from when he was 19 years old.  He had the support of his school and excellent evidence of rehabilitation, including a solid work history and a commitment to volunteering with children in his community as a sports coach.  LAC represented Mr. Doe in a hearing before the New York State licensing board, and Mr. Doe obtained his license.  
  • Cosmetology License (2010).  M.M.’s application to renew her cosmetology license was denied by the New York Department of State because of a 2008 misdemeanor conviction for forgery. M.M. had incurred the conviction at age 20, when she signed her former employer’s name on checks.  M.M. accepted a guilty plea, paid restitution, and incurred a three-year sentence of probation, with no incarceration time.  M.M. had excellent references from a new employer who wanted to expand her responsibilities, but could not do so unless M.M. received the cosmetology license.  LAC represented M.M. in a hearing and convinced the Department of State to grant her the license renewal.
  • Security Guard License (2010).  C.S. was denied a security guard license by the New York State Department of State due to a seven-year old conviction related to an incident with her daughter.  Following her conviction, she participated in numerous anger management programs, parenting skills programs, individual therapy and family therapy.  LAC represented C.S. at the Department of State’s administrative hearing to review its initial decision, presented evidence of C.S.’s rehabilitation, and convinced the Department to reverse its decision and issue C.S. a license to work as a security guard.

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Admissions Denial Cases (2004-present):

The following are examples of successful representation of New York City residents who were denied federally-subsidized housing because of a criminal conviction.  The law firms of Debevoise & Plimpton and Sullivan & Cromwell represented many of these clients on a pro bono basis, with Legal Action Center as backup counsel.  LAC also worked collaboratively with the New York University Law School Re-entry Clinic.

  • D.H. –  was denied Section 8 housing to her due to her nine-year old federal felony conviction for importation of narcotics.  D.H. was only 18 at the time of her arrest.  Following one year of incarceration and three years of supervised release, she completed numerous programs and seminars including anger management and parenting courses, security guard and home health aide training, and obtained a GED.  She also became active in the community and began attending the Borough of Manhattan Community College, where she received two academic scholarships and participated in federal work study.  With LAC’s guidance, Sullivan & Cromwell represented D.H. and won the hearing, paving the way for D.H. to obtain stable housing.
  • L.M. – was denied public housing because the father of her two toddlers had a felony conviction.   Legal Action Center represented L.M. in an appeal, during which time she and her children became homeless.  LAC won the hearing after convincing NYCHA that the father was permanently housed elsewhere and would not live with L.M. and her children.
  • D.B.  – was at risk of being evicted from her Section 8 subsidized apartment when it changed ownership because of a criminal conviction she incurred as a result of her drug addiction.  With Legal Action Center’s assistance, Debevoise & Plimpton represented D.B. in an administrative hearing and won a decision that D.B. could retain her Section 8 eligibility because she proved her rehabilitation through intensive treatment for both her addiction and mental illness.

Older Litigation:

  • Smith v. Fussinich, 440 F. Supp. 1077 (D. Conn. 1977).  Participated as amicus curiae in a successful constitutional challenge to Connecticut’s flat statutory ban against licensing people with felony convictions as private detectives.
  • Connolly v. New York City Transit Authority, 74 Civ. 1085 (Memorandum and Order approving settlement, S.D.N.Y January 26, 1982).  Settled class action suit challenging the New York City Transit Authority’s policy of refusing to hire people with arrest and conviction histories.  Settlement included relief for hundreds of clients and rewriting of the Transit Authority’s employment practices toward people with criminal histories.
  • Carmona v. Ward, 436 F. Supp. 1153 (S.D.N.Y. 1977), rev ‘d, 576 F.2d 405 (2nd Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 1091 (1979).  Challenge to Rockefeller drug laws’ maximum life sentence for sale and possession of small and medium amounts of heroin and cocaine.  District Court ruled it was unconstitutional cruel and inhuman punishment. Court of Appeals reversed and Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari led to much publicity and legislative repeal of those provisions.
  • Sutherland v. U.S. Postal Service, 77 Civ. 2294 (Consent Order and Judgment S.D.N.Y. July 27, 1979). Successfully challenged U.S. Postal Service’s policy of refusing to hire people with arrest and conviction histories. Settlement included relief for most named plaintiffs and class members and rewriting of Postal Service’s employment practices toward people with criminal histories.
  • Dominguez v. Beame, No. 78-7353 (2nd Cir. June 28, 1979). Constitutional challenge to the New York City Police Department’s policy of arresting people it suspected of being prostitutes and charging them with disorderly conduct.  Lawsuit forced an end to the practice.
  • Outlaw v. D’Elia, 75 Civ. 3487 (S.D.N.Y.).  Class action challenge to guard-on-inmate brutality in New York City jail for adolescent inmates. Successful settlement led to change of procedures and monetary relief for lead plaintiffs.
  • Captan v. Nyquist, 77 Civ. 2825 (Memorandum Order S.D.N.Y. Nov. 22, 1978).  Challenge to New York State policy of denying optometry licenses to people who had been trained in prison to practice this trade. Case resulted in statewide policy change allowing individuals with criminal records to become optometrists.
  • Keyer v. Civil Service Commission, 397 F. Supp. 1362 (S.D.N.Y. 1975).  Successful challenge to New York City’s policy of denying tow-truck licenses to all individuals with criminal records regardless of relevance of the criminal record.


(To protect privacy, some case descriptions use fictitious names or initials.)

Litigation – HIV/AIDS Discrimination:

  • Doe v international corporation (2014 – private settlement).  Obtained reinstatement, back pay, and emotional harm award on behalf of man who was denied employment due to his HIV status.  Case was filed in federal court and litigated case through discovery.
  • Adam Doe v. Deer Mtn. Day Camp, 682 F. Supp.2d 324 (S.D.N.Y. 2010).  With pro bono support from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, won summary judgment on behalf of a ten-year-old boy who was excluded from a one-week basketball day camp because of his HIV status.  In the first case in the country to address HIV-positive children’s participation in camps, the court’s decision stated that the camp violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York State Human Rights Law by excluding him because of his HIV status.  Legal Aid of Rockland County also co-counseled the case. 
  • Doe v. Children of the World, No. L-004042-04, Superior Ct. of NJ, Essex County, 2004.  With pro bono support from Lowenstein Sandler PC, settled the first known case in the country challenging a private adoption agency’s refusal to provide services to a couple because one of them is HIV-positive.  Under the settlement, Children of the World published a public apology in the Essex County Star Ledger, implemented anti-discrimination policies and training, and paid damages.
  • Donovan v. Girl Scouts-USA and Adirondack Girl Scouts Council, NYSDHR Case Nos. 9K-PD-99-2400722 and 9K-P-D-99-2400733 Nov.1999.  Settled case charging discrimination based on HIV status. Adirondack Girl Scout Council agreed to revise its existing HIV policy to ensure that volunteers understand that girls may not be denied admission to a troop or otherwise discriminated against based on HIV status. Defendant also established a comprehensive HIV education program for troop leaders and staff regarding HIV transmission, universal precautions, and its non-discrimination policy. 
  • Red Hook Civic Assoc. v. Halperin, Index No. 133097/94, (Decision and Order, N.Y. Sup. Ct., N.Y. Cty., Dec. 19, 1994).  Defeated a “Not-in-My-Backyard” challenge that sought to prevent an AIDS housing and services agency (Food First) from opening a new site in Red Hook.   Co-counseled the case with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.
  • Doe and Roe v. Harlem Interfaith Counseling Service, NYSDHR Case Nos. 9K-P-D-93-2400344 and 9K-P-D-93-2400345 (Order after Hearing, June 19, 1995).  After trial in New York State Division of Human Rights, won a discrimination case brought on behalf of a 5-year-old HIV positive girl who had been denied the right to participate in an after-school program because of her HIV status and that of her mother.
  • Doe v. New York City Fire Department (1994).  Successfully negotiated a pre-litigation agreement on behalf of an HIV-positive firefighter who was forced into a non-fire-fighting position after his confidentiality was breached and HIV status was disclosed. In addition to obtaining individual relief, the settlement required the Fire Department to affirm a nondiscrimination policy concerning firefighters with HIV and to conduct HIV training for members of firehouse

Litigation – Confidentiality & Testing:

  • Doe v. hospital in New York City (2013). With pro bono support of Davis Wright & Tremaine, LAC successfully settled a lawsuit charging a New York City-based hospital with conducting an HIV test without Mr. Doe’s consent.  Mr. Doe had instructed the hospital not to conduct the test because he had just survived hurricane Katrina and did not think he could emotionally withstand an HIV diagnosis at that time.  Nevertheless, the hospital conducted the test, in violation of New York law.  The hospital later called and told him he was HIV positive, but failed to provide the legally required counseling.  LAC filed a complaint with the New York State Department of Health, which found the hospital in violation of the law and required corrective action.  LAC and Davis Wright & Tremaine then filed a lawsuit, which ultimately settled substantial monetary damages. 
  • Doe v. Belmare and New York City Health & Hospitals Corp., 920 N.Y.S.2d 623 (Sup. Ct., Kings Co. 2011).  With pro bono support of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LAC successfully settled an lawsuit against Kings County Hospital and one of its employees for illegally disclosing Jane Doe’s HIV status to the employee’s son, whom Jane knew socially. Ms. Doe also won a motion to dismiss the suit.  The decision was the first in New York to rule that individuals suing a municipality for violation of New York’s HIV confidentiality law do not need to file a notice of claim. 
  • H.O. v. Sullivan County Sheriff’s Dept., 06 Civ. 12897 (S.D.N.Y.; settled 2008).  Co-counseling with pro bono partner Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, settled federal lawsuit challenging Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department with violating plaintiff’s Constitutional right to privacy.  The violation occurred after plaintiff disclosed his HIV status to the sheriff who arrested him and the sheriff, in turn, disclosed plaintiff’s status to his girlfriend without his consent. 
  • Cases against New York City area hospitals and medical offices  (2005 – present).  In partnership with law firms—including Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; DLA Piper; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Clifford Chance; and Skadden Arps Meagher and Flom—LAC has obtained substantial monetary settlements against New York hospitals and medical offices that disclosed our clients’ HIV status without their consent or other legal authorization, in violation of New York’s HIV confidentiality law. 
  • Doe v. Family Aides, Civ. No. 50016/02, Sup. Ct. Kings County, settled 2006.  Won monetary settlement for client whose HIV status was disclosed to his neighbor by his home health aide. 
  • Brown v. H.I.R.E., Index no. 03/400072, Sup. Ct., N.Y. County, settled 2005.  Won monetary settlement for client whose HIV status was disclosed to his aged mother by the director of his AIDS supportive housing facility.
  • Roe v. Social Security Administration, 03-CIV-3812; settled 2004). Won monetary settlement of a lawsuit brought by Jane Roe, whose HIV status was illegally disclosed by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  Ms. Roe had applied for disability benefits, and the SSA employee who processed her application recognized the name of Ms. Roe’s roommate. After the interview, the employee immediately told a mutual friend that Ms. Roe has AIDS. Ms. Roe charged SSA and the employee with violating the federal Privacy Act and Constitutional right to privacy. The settlement compensated Ms. Roe for the enormous emotional harm she suffered, including a severe depression and psychiatric hospitalization.
  • Doe v. Courtien, (CV-01-1655, E.D.N.Y.; settled 2003). Obtained a monetary settlement of a federal lawsuit charging a New York City police officer with illegally disclosing an arrestee’s HIV status to her family, in violation of the Constitutional right to privacy. The payment compensated Ms. Doe for the emotional harm she suffered, which included being shunned by some of her close family members. The Center received pro-bono assistance from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. 
  • Mary Doe v. New York City Department of Social Services and New York City Police Department, 93 Civ. 8385 (Memorandum and Order approving settlement S.D.N.Y Oct. 20, 1995).  Successful settlement of case charging New York City Department of Social Services (D.S.S.) and Policy Department with illegally disclosing the HIV status of a woman and her three children. A child welfare caseworker told the police that the “family had AIDS,” and the police officer redisclosed the information to the teenage daughter’s boyfriend. The case resulted in improved HIV training for caseworkers and police as well as damages for the family. In approving settlement, federal district court noted merit of constitutional privacy claim against the police in addition to claim against D.S.S. under New York’s HIV confidentiality law. 

Pre-Litigation Settlements – Confidentiality & Testing:

  • Doe v New York City hospital (2019). Won substantial pre-litigation settlement awarding monetary damages to woman whose doctor faxed her HIV information to her employer instead of to her surgeon.
  • C.L. v. national pharmacy chain  (pre-litigation settlement, 2006).  Obtained monetary settlement against major national pharmacy chain who gave C.L.’s HIV medication to the wrong customer in violation of New York State’s HIV confidentiality law and HIPAA.  Also secured ruling by the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that pharmacy violated HIPAA.
  • P.H. v. Frankenberg and NYC Marshal’s Office (pre-litigation settlement, 2005). With pro bono support from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, won pre-litigation settlement awarding monetary damages to client whose HIV status was disclosed to his neighbor by New York City Marshal during an attempted eviction.
  • New York City HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) Confidentiality Violations (pre-litigation settlements, June 2003).  Obtained agreement requiring HASA – the City agency responsible for providing financial and other assistance to low income individuals with HIV/AIDS – to correct numerous, egregious HIV confidentiality violations.  Violations included systemically sending mail to client’s homes with “HASA” return address readily visible and HASA employees’ disclosing clients’ HIV status to their neighbors and others. HASA implemented significant agency-wide policy changes in response to the Legal Action Center’s demands.
  • D.R. v. Mobile Health Management Services, Inc. (pre-litigation settlement, 2002). Won substantial monetary settlement from a medical office that illegally disclosed a patient’s HIV status to his employer. D.R. had gone to the medical office for a pre-employment examination.  When asked about his medications, which included known HIV drugs, he told the medical staff that he would only name his medication if he was assured that his employer would not receive the information. He got the assurances, but the medical office forwarded his HIV status to his employer anyway.  This led to harassment by his supervisor and co-workers. The Center also filed a successful claim with the New York State Department of Health, which found that the medical office violated New York’s HIV confidentiality law and required the office to implement confidentiality policies.
  • Doe v. HIV service provider (Pre-litigation settlement, December 1998). Won  monetary award to father in case alleging violation of family’s HIV privacy rights resulting from press photograph and caption identifying daughter as child of parents with AIDS.

Substance Use Disorder Cases

(To protect privacy, some case descriptions use fictitious names or initials.)


  • Right to Addiction Medication in Criminal Justice System (2011-present). With the release of LAC’s seminal 2011 report, Legality of Denying Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment in the Criminal Justice System, LAC launched a national discussion about how the criminal justice system’s common practice of denying access to medication for opioid use disorder (OUD) violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and Constitution. LAC joined forces with pro bono counsel, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison to successfully challenge orders by two New York judges that individuals under probation supervision stop taking buprenorphine, which is the standard of care for treating OUD. LAC also has provided technical assistance to other attorneys about how to advocate for the right to addiction medication and engaged the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an Opioid Initiative addressing discrimination against people receiving addiction medication.  (Read more in LAC’s MAT Advocacy Toolkit.)
  • Association for Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment et al., v. New York City Department of Sanitation et al., NYSDHR Case Nos. 1A-E-D-85-104038 et seq. (Order after Stipulation June 13, 2000).  Successful settlement in case challenging the Sanitation Department’s medical disqualification of sanitation worker applicants with alcohol and drug histories. Settlement resulted in implementation of revised medical standards that require individualized assessment of applicants with histories of alcoholism and individuals who have participated in methadone treatment for one year with no report of relapse.
  • Smith-Berch, Inc. v. Baltimore County, Md., 68 F. Supp.2d 602 (D. Md. 1999); 115 F. Supp.2d 520 (D. Md. 2000).  Won case challenging the county’s imposition of a zoning hearing requirement on methadone treatment programs seeking to locate in the county. The court’s decision held that the hearing requirement violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The court required the county to treat methadone treatment programs like all other medical offices for purposes of zoning.
  • Innovative Health Systems v. City of White Plains, 117 F.3d 37 (2nd Cir. 1997).  Won preliminary injunction preventing the city of White Plains from refusing to allow an alcohol and drug program to move into a part of the city zoned for that purpose.  The court’s decision established national precedent that Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination in zoning and protects providers of services such as treatment, as well as their clients, from disability-based discrimination.
  • Burch v. Coca-Cola, Inc., 119 F.3d 305 (5th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1084 (1998).  Participated as amicus curiae in employment discrimination case under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act on behalf of a manager who was fired after he entered in-patient alcoholism treatment.
  • Does v. Chandler, C.A. No. 95-00498 HG (Jan. 1996).  Participated as amicus curiae in successful challenge to the State of Hawaii’s policy of providing more limited welfare assistance to individuals with substance use disorders than those with other disabilities.
  • Burka v. NYC Transit Authority, 739 F. Supp. 814 (S.D.N.Y. 1990).  Won class action challenging the Transit Authority’s drug testing policies on Constitutional grounds, charging that they violated Fourth Amendment’s unlawful search and seizure provision and Fourteenth Amendment due process.  Court ruled for LAC’s plaintiffs in most aspects, resulting in implementation of accurate drug test procedures, limitation on the job titles that would be subject to drug tests, and monetary and injunctive relief for class members.

Occupational Licensure Hearings:

  • Matter of R.M. (1998).  Settled administrative matter on behalf of a nurse who was prohibited from practicing clinical nursing in Florida because of her participation in a methadone maintenance program. Negotiations resulted in the Florida Board of Nursing adopting a policy that permits nurses in methadone treatment to practice clinical nursing initially with monitoring and later without restriction or monitoring.

Older Cases:

  • Deas v. Levitt, 73 NY2d 525 (Ct. App. 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 933 (1989).  Due process challenge to the New York City Personnel Department’s practice of ending eligibility for civil service positions when list of eligible applicants expires, in case brought on behalf of applicant who filed successful administrative appeal of medical disqualification prior to expiration of the list, but was not reinstated before list expired.
  • Doe v. Roe, 539 N.Y.S.2d 876 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1989), aff d, 160 A.D.2d 255, 553 N.Y.S.2d 364 (App. Div. 1st Dept. 1990).  Successful challenge under New York State Human Rights Law to securities company’s dismissal of employee based on a drug test that could not distinguish between an opiate and a poppy seed bagel.
  • Clowes v. Terminix, 109 N.J. 575, 538 A.2d 794 (N.J. 1988).  Established precedent that alcoholism is a protected disability under New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
  • Doe v. New York City Transit Authority 85 Civ. 4521 (Order on Consent S.D.N.Y. March 10, 1987) and Roe v. New York City Transit Authority, 85 Civ. 4690 (Order on Consent S.D.N.Y. March 10, 1987) (the “sons of Beazer” cases).  Successful settlements in a pair of post-Beazer employment discrimination cases brought under the Rehabilitation Act on behalf of methadone-maintained job applicant and employee seeking safety-related positions. In the settlements, the Transit Authority affirmed its non-discrimination policy toward individuals in methadone treatment and provided the plaintiffs jobs and monetary relief.
  • Traynor v. Turnage, 791 F.2d 226 (2nd Cir. 1986), rev d, 485 U.S. 535 (1988). U.S. Supreme Court overturned lower court decisions that Veterans Administration’s classification of alcoholism as “willful misconduct” rather than a disease violated Rehabilitation Act, ruling that Congress did not intend for that regulation to be covered by the Act. Congress then overturned the Supreme Court decision by requiring the VA to treat alcoholism as it does other illnesses under the VA program in which VA granted extensions of time for using educational benefits to veterans who were unable, due to disabilities, to take advantage of those benefits by the regulatory deadline.
  • Alcoholism Services of Erie County v. City of Buffalo, No. H6064 (Order and Judgment N.Y. Sup. Ct., Erie County, Dec. 30, 1981).  Won case challenging zoning discrimination against an alcohol and drug treatment program. Court ruled in favor of LAC’s client, a halfway house, ordering City to issue a zoning permit. 
  • Rodriguez v. New York City Police Department et al., 80 Civ. 4784 (Order on Consent S.D.N.Y. Dec. 1980).  Successfully settled class action suit after winning temporary restraining order in case challenging Police Department’s use of inaccurate drug testing procedures that resulted in firing of numerous newly-hired police officers. Case confirmed Rehabilitation Act’s protection of persons erroneously labeled as having drug addiction, resulted in Police Department changing its drug testing procedures and reinstating those who had been fired. 
  • Beazer v. NYC Transit Authority, 440 U.S. 568 (1979). LAC’s first case was a ground-breaking class action challenging the New York City Transit Authority’s policy of refusing to hire people who participate in methadone maintenance treatment. LAC’s impressive presentation of state-of-the-art evidence, including the nation’s leading methadone experts and employers testifying about successful employment of methadone maintained persons, turned around skeptical judge and won major victories in District Court and 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.  Despite U.S. Supreme Court reversal, the Transit Authority changed its policy. Moreover, the LAC was able to use favorable findings of fact developed in Beazer and accepted by the Supreme Court in many subsequent successful cases based on Rehabilitation Act and other statutes prohibiting discrimination based on disability.
  • Perez v. New York State Division of Human Rights, 70 A.D.2d 558, 416 N.Y.S.2d 813 (1st Dept. 1979), SDHR Case No. E-DNR-56824-78 (Stipulation of Settlement April 8, 1980).  Established that a person in methadone maintenance treatment has a protected disability under the New York State Human Rights Law provision that prohibits disability-based discrimination.
  • Ocasio v. Klassen, 73 Civ. 2496 (Order and Judgment S.D.N.Y. Nov. 25, 1974). Sucessfully challenged the United States Postal Service’s policy of refusing to hire people in methadone maintenance treatment and other people in recovery.  LAC obtained relief for the clients, and the Postal Service changed its hiring practices to conform to the Rehabilitation Act.
  • In the Matter of Operation: Phase Piggy Back.  Challenge to Manhattan District Attorney’s illegal seizure of confidential drug treatment records led to return of those records, sealing of all DA’s notes and notice to all DAs in that office about the requirements of the federal confidentiality law.
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