In September 1996, the United States received a complaint alleging a violation of title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. 12181-12189, and the implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, by the Eye Institute of Orange County, a private opthamological practice located in Irvine, California.
The complaint alleges that on March 5, 1996, Ms. Hollie Stevens, who has Down Syndrome, was denied an appointment for an optometry exam with Dr. Walcott on March 5, 1996, because his office "was not equipped to handle patients with Down's Syndrome."
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination by public accommodations against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability. Under title III, "no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the services of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation." 42 U.S.C. 12182(a).
Following the initiation of a Department of Justice investigation, the United States and the Eye Institute of Orange County have consented to enter into this Settlement Agreement (the "Agreement") without a trial or an adjudication of any issues of fact or law. The United States and the Eye Institute of Orange County agree that this Agreement, and the resolution of the United States' investigation, are in the public interest and that these matters can be resolved as set forth below.
ACCORDINGLY, IT IS HEREBY AGREED THAT:
1. The parties to this Agreement are the United States Department of Justice ("United States") and the Eye Institute of Orange County (the "Eye Institute").
2. The Eye Institute is a private entity that provides medical services to the general public and, as such, is a public accommodation within the meaning of title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12181, and 28 C.F.R. 36.104.
3. The Eye Institute adopts the following non-discrimination policy:
The Eye Institute of Orange County will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of Down Syndrome or any other disability in the full and equal enjoyment of its services and products. Prohibited discrimination includes refusing to treat an individual on the basis of disability.
Copies of the non-discrimination policy will be prominently posted at the reception desks of both Eye Institute locations in Irvine and Laguna Hills, California. Copies of the policy will also be made available to any individual upon request.
4. Copies of the non-discrimination policy adopted under paragraph 3 will be distributed to all employees of the Eye Institute within 5 days of the effective date of this Agreement. In order to ensure that all Eye Institute employees understand and comply with the policy, training to explain the non-discrimination policy will be held within 15 days of the date of this Agreement. All Eye Institute staff members at both the Irvine and Laguna Hills offices are required to attend.
5. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Eye Institute will pay compensatory damages in the amount of $5,000 to New Directions, Inc., to be held in trust for Ms. Hollie Stevens. Payment to New Directions, Inc., on behalf of Ms. Stevens shall be made in the form of a certified check made payable to New Directions, Inc., and mailed by first-class certified mail to: New Directions, Inc., 5276 Hollister Avenue, Suite 207, Santa Barbara, CA 93111.
6. Within 45 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Eye Institute will submit a report to the United States certifying that it has taken the steps required above to comply with this Agreement. The report shall provide: 1) a written statement certifying the distribution of the non-discrimination policy to all staff members as well as that all staff members have attended the meeting(s) required under paragraph 4; 2) a copy of the check issued to New Directions, Inc.
7. The Attorney General is authorized, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 12188(b)(1)(B), to bring a civil action under title III, enforcing the ADA in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist or a matter of general public importance is raised. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing civil suit under title III in this matter regarding the issues discussed herein, so long as the Eye Institute complies with the terms of this Agreement.
8. The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If at any time within two years of the effective date of this Agreement, the United States finds that this Agreement or any requirement of this Agreement has been materially violated, or in the event that the Eye Institute fails to comply in a timely fashion with any requirement of this Agreement, all terms of this Agreement shall become enforceable in United States district court.
9. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by the Eye Institute or the United States upon request.
10. This Agreement constitutes the entire Agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or Agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, shall be enforceable.
11. This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth herein and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not affect the continuing responsibility of the Eye Institute to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
12. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
Agreed and Consented to:
|For the United States:
ISABELLE KATZ PINZLER
|For the Eye Institute of Orange County:
J. MICHAEL WALCOTT, M.D.
February 6, 2001