SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND
GRIST MILL MARKET, LLC
DJ # 202-14-232

The parties to this agreement (“Agreement”) are the United States of America and Grist Mill Market, LLC, d/b/a Grist Mill Market in Moodus, Connecticut.  The parties hereby agree as follows:

BACKGROUND

  1. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, a component of the United States Department of Justice (the “United States”), opened an investigation of the Grist Mill Market located at 25 Falls Road, Moodus, Connecticut, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, as amended.
  2. The United States initiated its investigation upon the receipt of a complaint from an individual with a disability who alleged that the Grist Mill Market required her to remove her service animal from the market as a condition of service.  Specifically, the complainant alleges that on May 10, 2017, she entered the Grist Mill Market with her service animal, but a staff member of the market told her that no dogs were permitted and that her dog could not remain in the market.  The complainant explained that the dog was a service animal, but the staff member reiterated that no dogs were permitted in the market.  The complainant then left the market with her service animal.
  3. Prior to August 1, 2018, the Grist Mill Market was owned and operated by ZJMN, LLC.  On July 31, 2018, ZJMN, LLC, sold the Grist Mill Market to Grist Mill Market, LLC, (hereinafter “Grist Mill”), the current owner of the market.  Aside from the change in ownership, there have been no other wholesale changes to the market, including its staff or policies, since the incident in question.
  4. Grist Mill admits that, in May of 2017, under the previous owner, the market had a policy and practice of not admitting any animals into the store.  Grist Mill further admits that a staff member did not permit the complainant to remain in the store with her service animal on May 10, 2017, because the staff member believed the complainant was violating the previous ownership’s rule that no animals, including service animals, were permitted in the market.
  5. The United States is authorized to investigate alleged violations of Title III of the ADA.  Moreover, the United States is authorized, where appropriate, to use alternative means of dispute resolution, including settlement negotiations, to resolve disputes.  If resolution is not achieved, the United States may bring a civil action in federal court in any case where the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that a pattern or practice of discrimination exists or where the case raises an issue of general public importance.  42 U.S.C. §§ 12188(b), 12212; 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.502, 36.503, 36.506.
  6. 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 CFR § 36.201(a).
  7. The Grist Mill Market, which is a grocery store, is a place of public accommodation covered by Title III of the ADA.  42 U.S.C § 12181(7)(E); 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.104(5).  As the owner and operator of the Grist Mill Market, Grist Mill is a public accommodation covered by Title III of the ADA.  28 C.F.R. § 36.104.
  8. The ADA requires that, generally, public accommodations modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of service animals by persons with disabilities.  42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii); 28 C.F.R. § 36.302(a), (c).
  9. Title III permits only two inquiries by a public accommodation to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal.  The public accommodation may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what work or task the animal has been trained to perform, except a public accommodation may not make such inquiries when it is readily apparent that an animal is a service animal trained to do work or perform tasks.  28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c)(7).
  10. Title III prohibits a public accommodation from requiring that an individual with a disability who uses a service animal provide documentation, such as proof that a service animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal.  28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c)(7). 

REMEDIAL ACTION

General Nondiscrimination Requirement

  1. Consistent with the requirements of Title III of the ADA, Grist Mill will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of any of its goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.  Specifically, Grist Mill will modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of service animals by individuals with disabilities.

Service Animal Policy

  1. Within 14 days after the effective date of this Agreement, to ensure equal access for persons with disabilities who use service animals to the Grist Mill Market, Grist Mill and the Grist Mill Market will:
    1. adopt the Service Animal Policy (“Policy”) attached hereto and incorporated by reference herein as Attachment A to this Agreement;
    2. distribute the Policy to all employees and managers of the Grist Mill Market who have contact with the public;
    3. provide a copy of the Policy to all newly hired Grist Mill Market employees and managers as part of its standard onboarding process for all new hires;
    4. post a copy of this Policy in a conspicuous location where employees can readily read the Policy; and
    5. keep the Policy on hand for any market customers who wish to, upon request, read the Policy.
  2. Wherever required by paragraph 12 above to be posted, displayed or kept on hand, the Policy shall be printed in a dark bold font on a contrasting background in the largest font that fits on two 8.5" by 11" pieces of paper.  Physical copies of the posted Policy will be refreshed, as needed, for the life of this Agreement.
  3. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, Grist Mill will provide written confirmation to the United States of the issuance and communication to employees and the posting of the Policy at the Grist Mill Market.
  4. For the life of this Agreement, on an annual basis, Grist Mill will redistribute the Policy to all store employees and managers who have contact with the public.  Grist Mill will provide the United States with written confirmation of the issuance of this communication to employees.

Training

  1. Within 60 days of the effective date of this Agreement, Grist Mill will ensure that all owners, managers and employees of the Grist Mill Market receive training on the ADA requirements regarding individuals with disabilities who use service animals, including a review of the Department of Justice’s technical assistance document, Frequently Asked Questions About Service Animals and the ADA, available at: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html.  Grist Mill will notify the United States when the above training has been completed.
  2. Grist Mill shall provide such training as described above on an annual basis thereafter for the life of this Agreement.

Signage

  1. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Grist Mill Market will post in a conspicuous location in all public entryways of the store a sign prominently indicating “Service Animals Welcome”.  The signage will have a non-glare finish and will be printed in a dark, bold font with a 5/8 inch minimum character height on a contrasting light background.  The sign shall be mounted at 40 inches minimum above the finish floor to the baseline of the character and will be refreshed, as needed, for the life of this Agreement.

IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF AGREEMENT

  1. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, the United States agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit for failure to comply with Title III of the ADA at the Grist Mill Market; provided, however, that the United States reserves the right to file a civil lawsuit to enforce this Agreement.
  2. The United States does not assert that this Agreement or the remedial measures contemplated herein will bring the Grist Mill Market into compliance with all aspects of the ADA, and nothing in this Agreement is intended to constitute an interpretation of the legal requirements of the ADA by the United States.  Rather, the parties enter into this Agreement for the purpose of compromising disputed claims and avoiding the risk and expenses of litigation.  This Agreement is a compromise and it shall not be used or introduced into evidence in any other case or proceeding other than between the parties to this Agreement.
  3. The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time, including but not limited to testing at the Grist Mill Market.  If the United States believes that Grist Mill has violated this Agreement or any requirement thereof, it agrees to notify in writing Mr. Kevin Tripp, Grist Mill Market, LLC, 646 Old Colchester Road, Uncasville, CT, 06382, of the specific violation(s) alleged.  Grist Mill shall have 30 days from its receipt of the notice to cure and/or respond in writing to the United States the alleged violation(s).
  4. This Agreement is a public document.  A copy of this document or any information contained in it may be made available to any person.
  5. Failure by the United States to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of the United States’ right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  6. This Agreement shall be binding on Grist Mill and its agents, employees, contractors, successors, and assigns.
  7. This 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.  This Agreement resolves Department of Justice investigation DJ# 202-14-232 and does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other federal law.  This Agreement does not affect Grist Mill’s and the Grist Mill Market’s continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
  8. If any provision of this Agreement is determined by any court to be unenforceable, the other terms of this Agreement shall nonetheless remain in full force and effect, provided, however, that if the severance of any such provision materially alters the rights or obligations of the parties, the United States and Grist Mill shall engage in good faith negotiations in order to adopt such mutually agreeable amendments to this Agreement as may be necessary to restore the parties as closely as possible to the initially agreed-upon relative rights and obligations.
  9. The person signing this Agreement for Grist Mill represents that he or she is authorized to bind Grist Mill and the Grist Mill Market to this Agreement.
  10. This Agreement will remain in effect for three (3) years.
  11. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature.

New Haven, Connecticut
April 9, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncasville, Connecticut
April 5 , 2019

FOR THE UNITED STATES:

JOHN H. DURHAM
United States Attorney for the
District of Connecticut

By: /s/ Jessica H. Soufer
JESSICA H. SOUFER            
Assistant United States Attorney
157 Church Street, 25th Floor
New Haven, CT 06510

 

 

FOR GRIST MILL MARKET, LLC
d/b/a THE GRIST MILL MARKET:

 

By: /s/ Kevin Tripp
KEVIN TRIPP
Member

Attachement A: Service Animal Policy

SERVICE ANIMAL POLICY

The Grist Mill Market in Moodus, Connecticut, is committed to making reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures to permit the use of service animals by persons with disabilities.  Service animals play an important role in ensuring the independence of people with disabilities, and it is therefore our policy to welcome into our store any animal that is individually trained to assist a person with a disability.

What is a Service Animal?

Service animals include any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.  Service animals do not always have a harness, a sign, or a symbol indicating that they are service animals.  A service animal is not a pet.  Service animals assist people with disabilities in many different ways, such as:

Requirements with Regard to Service Animals:

Most of the time, people with disabilities who use service animals may be easily identified without any need for questioning.  If we can tell by looking, it is our policy not to make an individual feel unwelcome by asking questions.  If we are unsure whether an animal meets the definition of a service animal, it is our policy to ask the individual only two questions when the individual enters the store:

If the individual says yes to the first question and explains the work or tasks that the animal is trained to perform, we will welcome the person and service animal into the store without asking any additional questions about his or her service animal.  We will not ask an individual questions about his or her disability.  We will not ask an individual to show a license, certification, or special ID card as proof of their animal’s training.  We will not ask an individual with a service animal to use a specific entrance or exit in the store.  We must permit service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities to all areas of our store normally used by customers or other members of the public and will treat individuals with service animals with the same courtesy and respect that the Grist Mill Market in Moodus, Connecticut affords to all of our customers.

Manager Responsibilities:

The Grist Mill Market has the right to exclude a service animal from its business if the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it, or the dog is not housebroken.  We will not exclude a particular service animal based on past experience with other animals or based on fear unrelated to an individual service animal’s actual behavior.  Each situation will be considered individually.  When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.  Only an owner of Grist Mill Market or a manager he or she designates can make the decision to exclude a service animal.

 

 

By signing below, I, _______________________, acknowledge that I have reviewed and understand the Grist Mill Market Service Animal Policy.

 

Dated:

Employee Signature: