EXCLUSIVE: Dad claims discrimination, says Westchester Family Court denying ADA accommodations
Marc Fishman has been fighting in Westchester County Family Court since 2012, but not just for the right to see his kids.
“It’s been horrible,” says Fishman. “Family Court is already unfair but if you are disabled, you have no chance.”
Fishman, of Scarsdale, has a traumatic brain injury, tinnitus and hearing loss.
He gave News 12 records of his disability that he says he provided the court.
“My disabilities affect my memory, registration, hearing as well as processing and recalling information," says the 49-year-old father of four.
Fishman says his repeated requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act for real-time transcripts to understand what’s being said, a tape recorder or a note-taker have been denied.
“They’ve used my disability to mock me for not remembering court orders,” said Fishman. “Many times, they refused to give a written order in large print and say things verbally and expect me to remember after a four- or five-hour hearing.”
Fishman has personally filed several appeals against the state and Westchester County.
A federal ruling in 2021 granted him special accommodations in court, but the state denied his discrimination claims - saying Fishman failed to prove he’s disabled and is already allowed an ADA advocate during proceedings.
His attorney, Caner Demirayak, who is in a wheelchair, says he took on Fishman’s case and has filed his own lawsuit after experiencing similar discrimination while working in the New York state court system.
“The technology is there. The resources are there,” says Demirayak. “There’s just a very serious lack of training and lack of care towards persons of disabilities, which needs to change.”
A spokesman for the Office of Court Administration cited the lower court’s denial in Fishman’s discrimination case in their comments to News 12 and said Fishman’s federal ruling, granting him ADA accommodations, only applies to federal and not state courts.
“It’s very disappointing that they won’t do anything or reassess their position."