Thursday, October 14, 1999

Trustee with disability
suing OHA

Star-Bulletin staff


Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee A. Frenchy DeSoto filed suit against the agency charging discrimination because its policies do not accommodate her disability.

The complaint filed yesterday in U.S. District Court said the agency has refused her requests for an assistant to help her physically to perform her duties as trustee.

DeSoto uses a wheelchair because of post-stroke and heart conditions which limit her movement and physical exertion.

OHA spokesman Ryan Mielke said each trustee has a paid aide and a secretary. He declined to respond to the suit until trustees have had an opportunity to review it.

DeSoto filed a discrimination charge with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission earlier this year and recently filed a second charge of retaliation, according to the suit.

She claims OHA is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the state law.

"While the plaintiff has attempted to fit her request for a reasonable accommodation into the existing OHA policy for kako'o (assistant) she has expressed her frustration at OHA's refusal to consider modifications to that policy that would accommodate her," said the complaint.

Neither DeSoto nor her attorney could be reached for comment.

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