SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND
JON GRAVES, D/B/A DEERFIELD INN AND SUITES
D.J. No. 202-1-106

Press Release

  1. INTRODUCTION
    1. The parties to this Settlement Agreement are the United States of America and Jon Graves, 1267 W. Main Street, Parsons, TN 38363 (Graves).
    2. The United States Department of Justice (the Department) is responsible for enforcing title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, and the relevant regulation implementing title III, 28 C.F.R. pt. 36.
    3. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a); 28 C.F.R. 36.201(a).
    4. Jon Graves owns the Deerfield Inn & Suites, located at 2580 Highway 77, Gadsden, Alabama 35907 (Hotel). The Hotel is open to the public and is a place of public accommodation within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(A) and 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.
  2. BACKGROUND
    1. This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title III of the ADA with the Department.
    2. The complainant is a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe anxiety, and depression and uses a service animal. The complainant is an individual with disabilities, within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12102 and 28 C.F.R. § 36.105.
    3. Prior to her arrival at the Hotel, the complainant made a reservation to stay at the Hotel on October 13, 2018.
    4. On October 13, 2018, after driving until 4:00 a.m., the complainant attempted to check into the Hotel.  When the complainant informed the clerk that she had a service dog, the desk clerk informed her that the Hotel had a “no pets” rule. The complainant attempted to explain that a service dog is not a pet but the desk clerk pointed to the “no pets” sign in the hotel window.  The desk clerk refused the complainant’s request to speak with the manager, but said she would not charge her for the room despite the fact that the reservation was “non-refundable.” Due to the late hour and a major sporting event in the area, the complainant was unable to find an available room at another hotel.  Ultimately, the complainant left, drove to the parking lot of a church, and slept in her car.
    5. Because of the denial of access to the Hotel, the complainant felt humiliated and experienced emotional distress.
    6. The parties wish to amicably resolve this matter without litigation.  The United States believes that resolution of this matter through this Agreement is in the public interest.  In consideration of, and consistent with, the terms of this Agreement, the United States agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or filing a civil suit under title III in this matter, except as provided in the Implementation section of this Agreement.
  3. REMEDIAL ACTION
    1. Consistent with title III of the ADA, Graves shall ensure that the Hotel does not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the services it provides by excluding or providing unequal treatment to persons with disabilities, including those who use service animals. 42 U.S.C § 12182; 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.201, 36.202. Specifically, the Hotel shall modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability. 42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(2)(A); 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.302(a), (c).
    2. Service Animal Policy: the Hotel agrees that persons with disabilities, including those accompanied by service animals, will be welcome and that the Hotel will adopt and abide by the Service Animal Policy (Attachment A) attached to this Agreement.  The Hotel shall not refuse to admit a person with a disability because that person uses a service animal nor shall it request documentation concerning the service animal.  It also shall not charge a person with a disability any extra fee or ask a person with a disability to comply with any additional condition of service because they use a service animal.
    3. Publication of Policy:  The Hotel agrees to prominently post the Service Animal Policy in its lobby. The Hotel will also post a statement in all future advertising, including in its listings on third-party booking websites, that the Hotel complies with the ADA and welcomes service dogs.  The Hotel shall provide a copy of the notice to the United States within ten (10) days of posting.
    4. Training: Graves and the Hotel management and staff shall undergo training regarding the ADA requirements to accommodate individuals with disabilities who use service animals, including a review of the Department’s technical assistance document, Frequently Asked Questions About Service Animals and the ADA, available at: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html.  The Hotel shall arrange for and ensure that appropriate training on the ADA and service animals is conducted within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this Agreement.  Thereafter, all new employees will be trained on the requirements of the ADA within thirty (30) days of their hire date.  The Hotel will notify the Department when it has completed this training.
    5. Monitoring:  During the term of this Agreement, the Hotel shall maintain a log of all overnight guests accompanied by a service dog.  At a minimum, the log will include the name and contact information of the person making the request, the date of the request, and the Hotel’s disposition of the request. Copies of the log will be delivered to the Department on the three, six, nine and a final report on the 12-month anniversary of the effective date of the Agreement as defined in paragraph 24, below. The Hotel shall not retaliate against or otherwise coerce any individual with a disability who uses a service dog for filing a complaint with the Department or otherwise exercising rights protected by the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a).
    6. Within ten (10) days after receiving the complainant’s signed release the Hotel shall send a check in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) made out to the complainant. This check is compensation to the complainant pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(B) for the effects of the discrimination and the harm she has endured, including, but not limited to, emotional distress, as a result of the Hotel’s actions.  The Hotel shall provide written notification to counsel for the United States, including a copy of the check, within seven (7) days of completing the actions described in this paragraph.
  4. IMPLEMENTATION
    1. This Settlement Agreement cannot be modified or amended except in writing, agreed to by the Parties.
    2. The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time.  If the United States believes that this Agreement or any portion of it has been violated, it will raise concerns with the Hotel and the parties will attempt to resolve the concerns in good faith.  If the parties are unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue(s) raised within thirty (30) days of the date that the United States provides notice to the Hotel, the United States may institute a civil action in the appropriate Federal District Court to enforce this Agreement or the requirements of title III.
    3. It is a violation of this Agreement for the Hotel to fail to comply in a timely manner with any of its requirements without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the United States for an extension of the relevant timeframe imposed by the Agreement.
    4. Failure by the United States to enforce any provision or deadline in this Agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of the United States’ right to enforce any deadline or provision of this Agreement. The Agreement, including Attachment A, 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, will be enforceable under its provisions.
    5. This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth above and does not purport to remedy or resolve any other existing or potential violations of the ADA or any other local or Federal law.
    6. This Agreement does not affect the Hotel’s continuing responsibility to comply with all applicable aspects of title III of the ADA.
    7. A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by the Hotel on request.
    8. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.  This Agreement will remain in effect for one (1) year from the effective date of this Agreement.
    9. The provisions of this Settlement Agreement shall be deemed severable, and any invalidity or unenforceability of any one or more of its provisions shall not affect the validity or enforceability of the other provisions herein.
    10. The person signing this Agreement for the Hotel represents that he is authorized to bind the Hotel to this Agreement.

FOR JON GRAVES
D/B/A DEERFIELD INN & SUITES

 

 

 

 

By: /s/ Jon Graves
JON GRAVES, Owner
THE DEERFIELD INN & SUITES
1267 W. Main Street
Parsons, TN 38363
(256) 413-1300 (telephone)

Dated: 9-24-19

FOR THE UNITED STATES

REBECCA B. BOND, Chief
KATHLEEN P. WOLFE,
Special Litigation Counsel
JENNIFER K. MCDANNELL,
Deputy Chief
Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division

 

By: /s/ Paula N. Rubin
PAULA N. RUBIN, Trial Attorney
Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC  20530
(202) 305-2191 (telephone)

Dated: 10-21-19

Attachment A: POLICY REGARDING INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES AND SERVICE ANIMALS

The Deerfield Inn & Suites (Hotel) is committed to providing service to customers with disabilities, including those individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Service animals play an important role in ensuring the independence of people with disabilities.  The Hotel welcomes guests who use service animals.

What is a Service Animal?

“Service animal” means any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Service animals come in all breeds and sizes.  A service dog may be trained either by an organization or by an individual with a disability; it does not need to be certified or licensed as a service animal. Service animals provide a wide range of services that may or may not be identifiable, including but not limited to:

Requirements with Regard to Service Animals

The Hotel may ask the person who has the dog if it is required because of a disability, and what work or task(s) the dog is trained to perform.  The Hotel may not ask an individual with a disability for proof of his or her disability or for any information about his or her disability, nor may the Hotel require proof or certification of the animal’s training or vaccination.  Service animals do not always have a sign, symbol, or harness indicating they are service animals.

Limited Exceptions

The Hotel has the right to exclude a service animal from the hotel only if the animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it or the animal is not housebroken.