Lane v. Brown: Sheltered Workshops and Supported Employment Services

The U.S. Department of Justice and the state of Oregon have reached a settlement agreement in the 2012 Lane v. Brown case

The class action lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of 2,300 Oregon residents with developmental disabilities.  It charges that Oregon is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not offering supported employment services to help residents work in their communities. 

The settlement comes a year after the Justice Department filed a statement with the court arguing that limiting people with disabilities to employment in sheltered workshops is no different than restricting them to live in institutions.  “The Americans with Disabilities Act recognizes that discrimination against individuals with disabilities includes intentional segregation and relegation to lesser service jobs,” said Bruce Rubin, a partner at the law firm Miller Nash, who is representing the plaintiffs.

As part of this settlement agreement, Oregon will cut the number of adults working in sheltered workshops by nearly 400 and reduce the number of hours worked there by almost a third over the next two years.  Oregon will also provide 1,115 employed adults with developmental disabilities, and 4,900 individuals with disabilities ages 14 to 24, with supported employment services so that they can achieve competitive employment over the next seven years.


On December 29th, 2015, an order approving the class action settlement initiated on November 13, 2015 was granted in the case of Lane. v. Brown.  At a hearing held on December 7, 2015, the U.S. District Court in Portland heard testimony from 12 witnesses, including seven persons with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.  The court’s order determined that the agreement was fair and reasonable, going beyond Oregon’s Olmstead Plan to expand integrated employment opportunities for at least 7,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and guaranteed 2,000+ class members will achieve Competitive Integrated Employment.  

The court reviewed its prior decisions:

(1) holding that the Title II of the ADA applies to employment and requires that the State to provide employment services in integrated settings rather than in segregated sheltered workshops;

(2) certifying a class; and

(3) denying intervention by a proposed class of parents who opposed integrated services. 

The court commented that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail in their ADA integration claims; however, this agreement will provide an equal measure of relief, while also guaranteeing thousands of individuals with I/DD will be provided jobs in community businesses.