U.S. Department of Justice
REGAL STADIUM-STYLE MOVIE THEATERS WILL BECOME ACCESSIBLE
This matter first came to light in December of 2000 when the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts filed suit against Hoyts Cinemas Corporation, a theater chain subsequently acquired by Regal in March of 2003. The initial suit alleged that Hoyts was violating title III of the ADA by locating wheelchair accessible seating outside the stadium sections of its stadium-style theaters. An amended complaint, expanding the lawsuit to include all of Regal’s stadium-style theaters nationwide, was filed simultaneously with the settlement agreement on June 8th.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Regal will remove all wheelchair seating located in the front row of its approximately 1,000 stadium-style theaters and, in doing so, will relocate the seating farther back within the theaters. Regal will implement this provision as to any stadium-style theaters it acquires during the next five years. In addition, for all new stadium-style theaters it builds during the next five years, Regal will locate all wheelchair seating within the stadium section and near the middle of the auditorium.
NORTH CAROLINA ACCESSIBILITY CODE MOVES CLOSER TO CERTIFICATION
Two public hearings were recently held to address the Department’s preliminary certification that the North Carolina Accessibility Code (NCAC) meets or exceeds the new construction and alterations requirements of title III of the ADA.
On May 16, 2005, the Department held its first public hearing in Cary, North Carolina. Individuals in attendance voiced support for the Department’s March 16, 2005, preliminary determination and urged the issuance of final certification for the NCAC. Later, on June 20th, the Department held a second public hearing in Washington, D.C.
After consideration of all comments, the Department may issue a final certification of equivalency.
On April 27, 2005, the Department entered into a settlement agreement under title III of the ADA with the owner/operator of the Skyline Mountain Resort in Fairview, Utah. Under the terms of the agreement, the owner/operator must engage in substantial barrier removal throughout the resort, which includes a golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool, club house, snack bar, camping grounds, public rental cabins, and cabin sites for sale.
RAMADA HOTEL WILL WELCOME SERVICE ANIMALS
On May 24, 2005, a settlement agreement was executed between the Department and S.R.P. Hospitality, the owner of the Ramada Plaza Hotel Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. The agreement followed an investigation that determined the hotel had discriminated against a blind guest and her two companions by failing to modify its "no pets" policy to accommodate her service animal.
Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the hotel will (1) refrain from future discrimination against people with disabilities who use service animals and their companions, (2) post an appropriate service animal policy in the hotel lobby, and (3) provide for staff training in relation to service animals. Additionally, the hotel will pay the complainant $1,000 in monetary damages.
Did you know . . .
DISABILITY AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT SUIT SETTLED AGAINST GROUP HOME OPERATOR
In its complaint, the Department asserted that Mr. Madrid (1) subjected tenants with mental disabilities to severe and pervasive physical harrassment and discrimitory living conditions and (2) subjected female tenants to severe and pervasive sexual harassment. The Department also maintained that he threatened to evict or take other adverse actions against tenants who refused, objected to, or reported his discriminatory actions. It was further alleged that Mr. Madrid explicitly based the terms of the female tenants’ residency on the granting of sexual favors.
In accordance with the settlement agreement, Mr. Madrid will pay $67,500 in monetary damages to the victims of his harassment, as well as pay $7,500 in civil penalties to the government. In addition to monetary compensation, Mr. Madrid must refrain from personally managing any group home facilities for five years.
MULTI-FAMILY HOUSING ACCESS FORUM PROGRAM LAUNCHED
Under the program’s current form, federal officials, members of the disability community, and developers of accessible housing participate in a regional forum at least twice a year to discuss not only the need for accessible housing, but also how to design and construct multi-family developments that are accessible to persons with disabilities. At the end of each forum, audience members are invited to share their own experience in developing successful methods that ensure the design and construction of multi-family housing developments are consistent with the FHA and other federal laws.
The May 15th meeting was hosted by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Wan Kim and featured two speakers, William Malleris and Dr. Rosemarie Rossetti. Mr. Malleris, a retired developer, designed and built integrated, accessible multi-family housing in the greater Chicago area. Dr. Rossetti, a disability rights advocate and author, is currently building a home for her family that incorporates unobtrusive universal design, resource and energy efficient "green building" methods, and advanced automation technology.
The next forum is scheduled for the fall of 2005.
DEPARTMENT SUES SAN ANTONIO HOUSING PROVIDER FOR DENYING REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION
The husband, a double amputee who uses a wheelchair, and the wife, who has several conditions making it difficult to walk and maneuver her husband’s wheelchair, had asked on numerous occasions to move from their third floor unit to a first floor unit. The purpose of this request was twofold: (1) they did not want to be dependent upon the elevators, which were at times unreliable, and (2) they did not want to travel as far to get to their unit. The Department’s complaint alleges that the defendants denied the couple’s requests despite the availability of two first floor units.
DEPARTMENT SETTLES TWO REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION CASES
Under the settlement agreement, the apartment owners will pay $33,000 to the former resident and $4,500 to the HOPE Fair Housing Center. The owners have also agreed to adopt a reasonable accommodation policy and obtain fair housing training.
The settlement agreement will require the defendants to permit the installation of the appliances by a licensed plumber in compliance with all applicable codes and industry standards. It also will require the defendants to adopt and implement a reasonable accommodation policy, undergo training, and pay the resident $2,000 in monetary damages.
DEPARTMENT FILES TWO DESIGN AND CONSTRUCT CASES IN ILLINOIS
Also, on April 25, 2005, the Department filed a complaint in the Southern District of Illinois against Applegate Apartments, a multi-unit complex in Belleville, Illinois. The Department asserts that the complex was not designed and constructed in compliance with the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements. The Department further alleges that the defendants’ conduct constitutes a pattern or practice of discrimination and a denial of rights to a group of persons. Defendants include the Shanrie Company, which developed and owns the complex, Shanrie’s President, Dan Sheils, and two engineering firms involved in the project, Netemeyer Engineering Associates, Inc. and Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc.
In this issue, we focus on complaints against local governments that have been successfully mediated.
On April 20, Division staff conducted a training session on the ADA for the Minnesota Department of Human Services in St. Paul, Minnesota. The interactive session, "Program Access under Title II of the ADA-Requirements and Practical Application," was video broadcasted to offices in 87 counties around the state. Audience members included policy makers, managers, and direct service providers.
On April 21, Division staff made a presentation to the World Bank Legal Department and the Bank’s Disability Working Group in Washington, D.C. The event, "ADA Fifteen Years Later: Lessons for Legal Frameworks in Developing Countries," highlighted beneficial ADA experiences for other countries interested in developing similar inclusive laws.
On April 28, Division staff made a presentation at the Fair Housing/Human Relations Workshop, which was sponsored by the City of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Human Relations Commission. The presentation addressed ADA Title II issues and emergency preparedness for natural disasters.
On April 28, Division staff conducted a half-day training seminar on ADA accessibility issues for the City of New York Parks and Recreation Department in Flushing, New York. Approximately 120 architects, landscape
On May 2, Division staff made a presentation to a committee of the National Association of Governors (NAG) at NAG’s annual meeting in Kansas City, Missouri. The program was entitled "ADA Enforcement Directions and Technical Assistance Opportunities Impacting State Governments and Public Accommodations.
On May 4, Division staff made a presentation at a seminar sponsored by the U.S. International Council on Disabilities for a delegation of officials visiting Washington, D.C., from Japan. Those in attendance included members of Japan’s House of Representatives. Japan is seeking to better understand the ADA as it considers legislation that would extend civil rights protections to persons with disabilities.
On May 11, Division staff addressed an audience, via web cast, on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for revising the ADA accessibility standards. The web cast, sponsored by the ADA and IT Center located in Houston, Texas, was attended by architects, design professionals, people with disabilities, advocates, and local government officials.
On May 17, Division staff participated in a regulatory panel sponsored by the American Hotel and Lodging Association in Washington, D.C. General ADA issues were addressed.
On May 17-18, Division staff conducted four workshops at the National ADA Symposium and EXPO in Overland Park, Kansas. Two sessions outlined the responsibilities of an ADA Coordinator, while one provided an update on the Division’s ADA activities and another an overview of Project Civic Access. The conference, sponsored by the 10 Regional ADA & IT Centers and hosted by the Great Plains Center, was attended by more than 400 people, including state and local government officials, persons with disabilities, business owners, attorneys, and architects.
On May 23, Division staff gave a presentation at California’s Respect-ABILITY 2005 Conference in Sacramento, California. Approximately 200 individuals with disabilities, advocates, and service providers attended the conference, co-sponsored by the Western Law Center for Disability Rights and the Pacific ADA & IT Center. The presentation provided an update on the ADA and focused on enforcement activities under titles II and III.
On June 2-4, Division staff conducted a presentation on the ADA at the annual conference of the Alabama Association of the Deaf (AAD) in Auburn, Alabama. The workshop provided basic information on the ADA and covered legal issues.
On June 16, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Loretta King spoke at the Arizona State Bar Convention in Tucson, Arizona. The seminar, "Opening the Door: Access for Persons with Disabilities in the Community," addressed titles II and III of the ADA, along with recent developments in the ADA and Fair Housing Act.
Did you know . . .
August 4, 2005