People with disabilities and medical conditions may feel they are being discriminated against – involuntarily exposed to RF radiation from smart meters on their property or neighboring properties that may cause harm, risk, exacerbate an existing condition, or are being charged fees to opt-out of smart meters for medical reasons (illegal surcharge). Accommodations may be requested of the PUC or utility for qualifying disabilities or medical conditions. A discrimination complaint may be filed if accommodations aren’t met.
Each state and local gov’t, including a municipal utility (run by local gov’t) is required to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act under Title II . Privately-owned utilities may be covered under Title III (see below). The ADA (more at www.ada.gov) is enforced by the US Dept of Justice (US DOJ). Privately-owned utilities that accepted federal funding for smart meter and smart grid projects also must follow certain additional federal discrimination laws, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended), as it applies to equal access to program benefits and services (equal access to essential utilities such as electricity and gas or water)**, with enforcement by the US Dept of Energy.
People with qualifying disabilities**** under the ADA*** may wish to file a complaint against the state Public Utility Commission and the utility company involved, if they feel their rights have been violated through denial of accommodations for their disability or medical condition. The complaint(s) would be filed with the US Dept of Justice (US DOJ) and/or the US Dept of Energy for Section 504 complaints (see below). Please note that there may be a time limit from the date the discrimination occurred (may be 180 days or less). It is recommended, if possible, to have legal assistance from an attorney or advocate skilled in disability rights to assist you in this process. Do an online search on “disability rights attorneys” to locate nonprofits with free disability rights clinics or attorneys who specialize in this area. The following is not intended to substitute for legal advice and our disclaimer applies to the use of this information.
1. Request the accommodations first, as they may be approved by the PUC or utility, in which case you will not need to file a DOJ complaint. Click here to see a sample accommodations request letter.
2. Write the state PUC and utility to request the accommodations.
3. You may refer to your disability or medical condition in general or choose to describe your disability or medical condition briefly, and how RF radiation impacts it.
4. It is helpful to confer with a supportive healthcare provider who will write a letter also making the request.
5. Request, specifically, the accommodations you wish to be provided with. These may be determined with your healthcare provider.
(for example: smart meters removed from your property and/or neighboring properties that impact your disability through exposure to RF radiation, analog (purely electromechanical) meters to replace them, no opt-out fees)
6. If you are denied, then you may file a complaint to the US DOJ (or US DOE, see below). You may also file a complaint if you have proof of a discriminatory policy of the state public utilities commission (ie. forcing smart meters and RF radiation on you and on everyone without regard for disability, or charging a surcharge or fee to avoid the radiation for medical reasons).
People with medical conditions under 504 (same complaint form for US DOJ), may first file an accommodations request to the state public utilities commission or utility as above based on a medical condition, rather than disability, or for both disability and medical condition(s) if applicable.
1. If your accommodations request was not granted, you may wish to file a discrimination complaint with the Department of Justice against the PUC and/or utility (whoever denied your accommodation request).
Note: To file a discrimination complaint against the utility also, you will need to find out if your utility is municipal or privately-owned. A municipal utility is run by local government. A privately-owned utility is owned by private interests, and is usually a corporation.
2. To file a (Title II) discrimination complaint against your state public utilities commission (PUC) or a local municipal utility, CLICK HERE to read background info and then download, print and fill out the TITLE II COMPLAINT FORM.
3. To file a (Title III) discrimination complaint against a privately-owned utility, see How to file a Title III Complaint – ADA.gov
4. If a privately-owned utility accepted federal funding (Recovery Act, etc.) for the smart grid or smart meter program, then an additional discrimination (Title 10) complaint under SubPart D, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended), Nondiscrimination under the Basis of Handicap, may be filed with the US Dept of Energy. Complaints may be submitted to Field Civil Rights Officers located in DOE’s field offices or to the Director, Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, D.C. 20585. For more info see * below.
For your healthcare providers:
Take the American Academy of Environmental Physicians (AAEM) position statement and letter to CPUC about smart meters to your physician or health care provider. AAEM: Advise Immediate Caution Smart Meters (April, 2012); AAEM Calls for Smart Meter Moratorium (Jan. 2012).
CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF ENVIRONMENTAL PHYSICIANS BELONGING TO THE AAEM. (SEE TOP LEFT REFERRAL AREA)
A Guide to Disability Rights Laws. A 21-page booklet that provides a brief overview of ten Federal laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities and provides information about the federal agencies to contact for more information. (Spanish, Cambodian, Chinese, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Tagalog and Vietnamese editions available from the ADA Information Line.)
*US Dept of Energy Compliance Complaint info:
§ 1040.89-5 Complaints.
(a) Any person, individually or as a member of a class or on behalf of others, may file a written complaint with DOE alleging discrimination prohibited by the Act or these regulations. A complainant must file a complaint within 180 days from the date he/she first had knowledge of the alleged act of discrimination. For good cause shown, however, the Director, Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, may extend the time limit for filing a complaint. Complaints may be submitted to Field Civil Rights Officers located in DOE’s field offices or to the Director, Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, D.C. 20585.
(b) The Director, Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, will attempt to facilitate the filing of complaints wherever possible, including taking the following measures:
(1) Accepting as a sufficient complaint any written statement which identifies the parties involved and the date the complainant first had knowledge of the alleged violation, describes generally the action or practice complained of, and is signed by the complainant.
(2) Freely permitting a complainant to add information to the complaint to meet the requirements of a sufficient complaint.
(3) Widely disseminating information regarding the obligations of recipients under the Act and these regulations.
(4) Notifying the complainant and the recipient of their rights and obligations under the complaint procedure, including the right to have a representative at all stages of the complaint procedure.
(5) Notifying the complainant and the recipient (or their representatives) of their right to contact DOE for information and assistance regarding the complaint resolution process.
(c) The Director, Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, will refer any complaint outside the jurisdiction of DOE to the proper Federal department or agency and will also notify the complainant and the recipient of the referral. The notification will contain an explanation for the referral and the name, telephone number, and address of the Federal department or agency office having jurisdiction over the matter complained.
[50 FR 8089, Feb. 27, 1985, as amended at 68 FR 51348, Aug. 26, 2003]
§ 1040.89-9 Compliance procedure.
(a) DOE may enforce the Act and these regulations through procedures precribed in subpart H of DOE regulation 10 CFR part 1040—Nondiscrimination in Federally Assisted Programs or Activities, which calls for—
(1) Termination of a recipient’s Federal financial assistance from DOE for a program activity in which the recipient has violated the Act or these regulations. The determination of the recipient’s violation may be made only after a recipient has had an opportunity for a hearing on the record before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Therefore, cases which are settled in mediation, or prior to a hearing, will not involve termination of a recipient’s Federal financial assistance from DOE under this section.
(2) Any other means authorized by law including, but not limited to:
(i) Referral to the Department of Justice for proceedings to enforce any rights of the United States or obligations of the recipient created by the Act or these regulations, or under the terms of the Federal financial assistance.
(ii) Use of any requirement of, or referral to, any Federal, State, or local government agency that will have the effect of correcting a violation of the Act of these regulations.
(b) DOE will limit any termination under §1040.89–9(a)(1) to the particular recipient and particular program or activity DOE finds in violation of these regulations. DOE will not base any part of a termination on a finding with respect to any program or activity of the recipient which does not receive Federal financial assistance from DOE.
(c) DOE will take no action under paragraph (a) until:
(1) The Director, Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, has advised the recipient of its failure to comply with the Act, these regulations, or the terms of the Federal financial assistance and has determined that voluntary compliance cannot be obtained.
(2) Thirty (30) days have elapsed after the Secretary or the Secretary’s designee has sent a written report of the circumstances and grounds of the action to the committees of the Congress having legislative jurisdiction over the program or activity involved. The Secretary will file a report whenever any action is taken under paragraph (a) of this section.
(d) DOE also may defer granting new Federal financial assistance to a recipient when a hearing under §1040.89–10 is initiated.
(1) New Federal financial assistance from DOE includes all assistance for which DOE requires an application or approval, including renewal or continuation of existing activities, or authorization of new activities during the deferral period. New Federal financial assistance from DOE does not include increases in funding as a result of changes, computation of formula awards, or assistance awarded prior to the beginning of a hearing under §1040.89–10.
(2) DOE will not defer new assistance until the recipient has received a notice of an opportunity for a hearing under §1040.89–10. DOE will not continue a deferral for more than 60 days unless a hearing has begun within that time or the time for beginning the hearing has been extended by mutual consent of the recipient and FERC. DOE will not continue a deferral for more than 30 days after the close of the hearing, unless the hearing resulted in a finding against the recipient.
[50 FR 8089, Feb. 27, 1985, as amended at 68 FR 51348, Aug. 26, 2003]
**Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
“Section 504 forbids organizations and employers from excluding or denying individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to receive program benefits and services. It defines the rights of individuals with disabilities to participate in, and have access to, program benefits and services.
Who Is Protected from Discrimination?
Section 504 protects qualified individuals with disabilities. Under this law, individuals with disabilities are defined as persons with a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. People who have a history of, or who are regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, are also covered. Major life activities include caring for one’s self, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, performing manual tasks, and learning. Some examples of impairments which may substantially limit major life activities, even with the help of medication or aids/devices, are: AIDS, alcoholism, blindness or visual impairment, cancer, deafness or hearing impairment, diabetes, drug addiction, heart disease, and mental illness.” http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/factsheets/504.pdf
*** excerpted from the ADA, background and definition of disability
TITLE 42 – THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE
CHAPTER 126 – EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH
Sec. 12101. Findings and purpose
(a) Findings. The Congress finds that
(1) physical or mental disabilities in no way diminish a person’s right to fully participate in all
aspects of society, yet many people with physical or mental disabilities have been precluded
from doing so because of discrimination; others who have a record of a disability or are
regarded as having a disability also have been subjected to discrimination;
(2) historically, society has tended to isolate and segregate individuals with disabilities, and,
despite some improvements, such forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities
continue to be a serious and pervasive social problem;
(3) discrimination against individuals with disabilities persists in such critical areas as
employment, housing, public accommodations, education, transportation, communication,
recreation, institutionalization, health services, voting, and access to public services;
(4) unlike individuals who have experienced discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex,
national origin, religion, or age, individuals who have experienced discrimination on the basis
of disability have often had no legal recourse to redress such discrimination;
(5) individuals with disabilities continually encounter various forms of discrimination, including
outright intentional exclusion, the discriminatory effects of architectural, transportation, and
communication barriers, overprotective rules and policies, failure to make modifications to
existing facilities and practices, exclusionary qualification standards and criteria, segregation,
and relegation to lesser services, programs, activities, benefits, jobs, or other opportunities;
(6) census data, national polls, and other studies have documented that people with
disabilities, as a group, occupy an inferior status in our society, and are severely
disadvantaged socially, vocationally, economically, and educationally;
(7) the Nation’s proper goals regarding individuals with disabilities are to assure equality of
opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for such
(8) the continuing existence of unfair and unnecessary discrimination and prejudice denies
people with disabilities the opportunity to compete on an equal basis and to pursue those
opportunities for which our free society is justifiably famous, and costs the United States
billions of dollars in unnecessary expenses resulting from dependency and nonproductivity.
(b) Purpose. It is the purpose of this chapter
(1) to provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of
discrimination against individuals with disabilities;
(2) to provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination
against individuals with disabilities;
(3) to ensure that the Federal Government plays a central role in enforcing the standards
established in this chapter on behalf of individuals with disabilities; and
(4) to invoke the sweep of congressional authority, including the power to enforce the
fourteenth amendment and to regulate commerce, in order to address the major areas of
discrimination faced day-to-day by people with disabilities.
Sec. 12101 note: Findings and Purposes of ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Pub. L. 110-325, § 2,
Sept. 25, 2008, 122 Stat. 3553, provided that:
(a) Findings. Congress finds that
(1) in enacting the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Congress intended that the
Act “provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination
against individuals with disabilities” and provide broad coverage;
(2) in enacting the ADA, Congress recognized that physical and mental disabilities in no way
diminish a person’s right to fully participate in all aspects of society, but that people with
physical or mental disabilities are frequently precluded from doing so because of prejudice,
antiquated attitudes, or the failure to remove societal and institutional barriers;
(3) while Congress expected that the definition of disability under the ADA would be
interpreted consistently with how courts had applied the definition of a handicapped individual
under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, that expectation has not been fulfilled;
(4) the holdings of the Supreme Court in Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471 (1999)
and its companion cases have narrowed the broad scope of protection intended to be
afforded by the ADA, thus eliminating protection for many individuals whom Congress
intended to protect;
(5) the holding of the Supreme Court in Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v.
Williams, 534 U.S. 184 (2002) further narrowed the broad scope of protection intended to be
afforded by the ADA;
(6) as a result of these Supreme Court cases, lower courts have incorrectly found in individual
cases that people with a range of substantially limiting impairments are not people with
(7) in particular, the Supreme Court, in the case of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky,
Inc. v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184 (2002), interpreted the term “substantially limits” to require a
greater degree of limitation than was intended by Congress; and
(8) Congress finds that the current Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ADA
regulations defining the term “substantially limits” as “significantly restricted” are inconsistent
with congressional intent, by expressing too high a standard.
(b) Purposes. The purposes of this Act are
(1) to carry out the ADA’s objectives of providing “a clear and comprehensive national
mandate for the elimination of discrimination” and “clear, strong, consistent, enforceable
standards addressing discrimination” by reinstating a broad scope of protection to be available
under the ADA;
(2) to reject the requirement enunciated by the Supreme Court in Sutton v. United Air Lines,
Inc., 527 U.S. 471 (1999) and its companion cases that whether an impairment substantially
limits a major life activity is to be determined with reference to the ameliorative effects of
(3) to reject the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc., 527 U.S. 471
(1999) with regard to coverage under the third prong of the definition of disability and to
reinstate the reasoning of the Supreme Court in School Board of Nassau County v. Arline,
480 U.S. 273 (1987) which set forth a broad view of the third prong of the definition of
handicap under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973;
(4) to reject the standards enunciated by the Supreme Court in Toyota Motor Manufacturing,
Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184 (2002), that the terms “substantially” and “major” in
the definition of disability under the ADA “need to be interpreted strictly to create a demanding
standard for qualifying as disabled,” and that to be substantially limited in performing a major
life activity under the ADA “an individual must have an impairment that prevents or severely
restricts the individual from doing activities that are of central importance to most people’s
(5) to convey congressional intent that the standard created by the Supreme Court in the case
of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184 (2002) for
“substantially limits”, and applied by lower courts in numerous decisions, has created an
inappropriately high level of limitation necessary to obtain coverage under the ADA, to convey
that it is the intent of Congress that the primary object of attention in cases brought under the
ADA should be whether entities covered under the ADA have complied with their obligations,
and to convey that the question of whether an individual’s impairment is a disability under the
ADA should not demand extensive analysis; and
(6) to express Congress’ expectation that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will
revise that portion of its current regulations that defines the term “substantially limits” as
“significantly restricted” to be consistent with this Act, including the amendments made by this
Sec. 12102. Definition of disability
As used in this chapter:
(1) Disability. The term “disability” means, with respect to an individual
(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life
activities of such individual;
(B) a record of such an impairment; or
(C) being regarded as having such an impairment (as described in paragraph (3)).
(2) Major Life Activities
(A) In general. For purposes of paragraph (1), major life activities include, but are not
limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping,
walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating,
thinking, communicating, and working.
(B) Major bodily functions. For purposes of paragraph (1), a major life activity also
includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of
the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain,
respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
(3) Regarded as having such an impairment. For purposes of paragraph (1)(C):
(A) An individual meets the requirement of “being regarded as having such an
impairment” if the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to an action
prohibited under this chapter because of an actual or perceived physical or mental
impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.
(B) Paragraph (1)(C) shall not apply to impairments that are transitory and minor. A
transitory impairment is an impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or
(4) Rules of construction regarding the definition of disability. The definition of “disability” in
paragraph (1) shall be construed in accordance with the following:
(A) The definition of disability in this chapter shall be construed in favor of broad coverage
of individuals under this chapter, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this
(B) The term “substantially limits” shall be interpreted consistently with the findings and
purposes of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
(C) An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major
life activities in order to be considered a disability.
(D) An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially
limit a major life activity when active.
(E) (i) The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity
shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such
(I) medication, medical supplies, equipment, or appliances, low-vision devices
(which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses), prosthetics
including limbs and devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other
implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and
(II) use of assistive technology;
(III) reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services; or
(IV) learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications.
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