SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND CJ SPA GROUP, INC.
UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

BACKGROUND

  1. The parties to this Settlement Agreement are the United States of America and CJ Spa Group, Inc. d/b/a Spa Palace (“Spa Palace”).
  2. This matter was initiated by USAO Complaint No. 2017V02104, DJ No. 202-12C-609, a complaint received by the United States Department of Justice. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California (“USAO”) conducted an investigation under the authority granted by Section 308(b) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b).
  3. The United States and Spa Palace have reached an agreement that is in the parties’ best interests, and that the United States believes is in the public interest, to resolve this matter on mutually agreeable terms. The parties have therefore voluntarily entered into this Settlement Agreement, as set forth below.

TITLE III COVERAGE AND DETERMINATIONS

  1. The Department of Justice is responsible for enforcing Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181–89, and the relevant regulations implementing Title III, 28 C.F.R. Part 36.
  2. The Complainant, who is blind, has a physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Accordingly, he has a disability within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12102 and 28 C.F.R. § 36.105.
  3. The Spa Palace facility is located at 620 South Union Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90017 and Spa Palace is a California corporation. In addition to having spa, sauna, and pool facilities, Spa Palace also provides massages and facials at its facility, and thus it is a “public accommodation” under Title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(F), (L).
  4. Under Title III of the ADA, no person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation may discriminate against an individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a).
  5. Under Title III of the ADA, a public accommodation must make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures when such modifications are necessary to afford goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities, unless making such modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.  42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A); 28 C.F.R. § 36.302(a).
  6. Under Title III of the ADA, a public accommodation shall not impose or apply eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an individual with a disability or any class of individuals with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying any goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations, unless such criteria can be shown to be necessary for the provision of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations being offered. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(i); 28 C.F.R. § 36.301(a). A public accommodation may impose legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation; such safety requirements must be based on actual risk and not on mere speculation, stereotypes, or generalizations about individuals with disabilities. 28 C.F.R. § 36.301(b).
  7. Under Title III of the ADA, a public accommodation shall not exclude or otherwise deny equal goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, accommodations to an individual because of the known disability of an individual with whom the individual is known to have a relationship or association. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(1)(E); 28 C.F.R. § 36.205.
  8. The Complainant alleges that, in July 2017, he and his friend booked appointments for massages at Spa Palace. When they arrived, a Spa Palace employee informed them that the Complainant could not enter the facility or receive a massage. When they asked why the Complainant could not enter, the employee informed them that “his kind,” referring to the Complainant, would not be able to follow instructions and the massage therapist could not care for him. They left Spa Palace without receiving services or entering the spa, sauna, or pool facilities. Approximately 45 minutes later, they received a call from another Spa Palace employee who stated that the Complainant could return and receive a massage. They did not return.
  9. Spa Palace disputes the Complainant’s allegations that an employee stated he could not enter the facility or understand instructions. Spa Palace claims that its employee informed the Complainant that, because he is blind, he needed his friend to accompany him at all times while in the facility.
  10. During time that the United States conducted its investigation, Spa Palace had a written policy regarding its facilities’ rules, some of which related to persons with disabilities. That policy was posted on its website and on its front desk. That policy stated in part, “[W]eak elderly seniors are not permitted to enter [the] spa facility without a legal guardian.” That policy also provided, “Guest[s] who require[] special assistance should be personally be accompanied at all times by [a] personal attendant.” Finally, the policy prohibited Spa Palace’s staff from assisting people in and out of wheelchairs, explaining that if such assistance is required, customers should bring a personal attendant.
  11. The United States interviewed several Spa Palace employees. They confirmed that Spa Palace employees are instructed to comply with the policies related to persons with disabilities as described in Paragraph 13. Additionally, the United States was able to verify that a Spa Palace employee did call the Complainant back and offer that he and his friend return for  massage services provided that the Complainant be accompanied by his friend.
  12. The United States has investigated the Complaint and has determined that the complainant’s allegations are credible and that Spa Palace imposes  eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out individuals with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying its services, facilities, and accommodations. These eligibility criteria also exclude or otherwise deny equal services, facilities, and privileges to individuals because they associate with individuals with disabilities.

ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN BY SPA PALACE

  1. Spa Palace shall not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability, including individuals who are blind or who use wheelchairs, in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of Spa Palace in violation of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12182, and the relevant implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. Part 36. Spa Palace shall not exclude or otherwise deny equal goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, accommodations to an individual because of the known disability of an individual with whom the individual is known to have a relationship or association in violation of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12182, and the relevant implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. Part 36.
  2. Spa Palace agrees not to apply eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out individuals with disabilities. Spa Palace shall not require that an individual with a disability be accompanied by an attendant.
  3. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, Spa Palace will submit to the United States for its review and approval modifications to its policy, described in Paragraph 13, so that it no longer references persons with disabilities, including the elderly, persons who require assistance, and persons who use wheelchairs.
  4. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, Spa Palace shall adopt the ADA Non-Discrimination Policy attached hereto as Exhibit A, and shall post its ADA Non-Discrimination Policy on its website and at its front desk where its employees and members of the public can readily read the policy.
  5. Spa Palace further agrees to make reasonable modifications to its policies, practices, and procedures when the modifications are necessary to afford goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities. Modifications may include, but are not limited to, (a) providing a Spa Palace employee to assist a person who is blind in maneuvering from its front desk to the person’s assigned locker or to other Spa Palace facilities, and (b) allowing a third party to accompany, at no additional cost and without being charged Spa Palace’s admissions fee, a person with a disability at Spa Palace to provide assistance of a personal nature, including assistance in toileting or dressing.
  6. Within 60 days of the effective date of this Agreement, Spa Palace shall submit to the United States, for review and approval, materials for training on the general nondiscrimination requirements of Title III, which shall include training on the provisions of this Agreement, and Spa Palace’s ADA Non-Discrimination Policy, and disability sensitivity training.
  7. Within 30 days after the United States approves the training required under Paragraph 21, Spa Palace shall conduct training to all Spa Palace employees and independent contractors who interact with the public on the general nondiscrimination requirements of Title III, reasonable modifications, the provisions of this Agreement, and Spa Palace’s ADA Non-Discrimination Policy. New employees and independent contractors who interact with the public hired during the term of this Agreement shall be provided comparable training within 30 days of their start date. For the duration of this Agreement, Spa Palace will provide annual, refresher training to employees and independent contractors who interact with the public on general nondiscrimination requirements of Title III, reasonable modifications, the provisions of this Agreement, and Spa Palace’s ADA Non-Discrimination Policy.
  8. Spa Palace will create and maintain an attendance log that documents the name of each individual who attends the trainings required in Paragraph 22, his or her title, and the date he or she attended the training. Spa Palace shall provide copies of the attendance sheets to the United States within 10 days of any request for them.
  9. Every 12 months, for the duration of this Agreement, Spa Palace will provide the United States written reports describing the activities Spa Palace has taken to comply with Paragraphs 16–23 of this Agreement. Upon request, Spa Palace will provide the United States all documentation underlying or related to the Spa Palace’s written reports. Spa Palace shall send its written reports via electronic mail to the United States (to the attention of acrivi.coromelas@usdoj.gov or other person specified by the United States) or via Federal Express to:

    Acrivi Coromelas
    Assistant U.S. Attorney
    Civil Rights Section, Civil Division
    United States Attorney’s Office
    300 Los Angeles Street, Rm. 7516
    Los Angeles, CA  90012

  10. During the duration of this Agreement, Spa Palace will notify the United States if any individual brings any lawsuit, complaint, charge, or grievance alleging that Spa Palace engaged in disability-based discrimination or denied its services to any individual with a disability. Such notification must be provided in writing within 15 days from when Spa Palace received oral or written notice of the allegation and will include, at a minimum, the nature of the allegation, the name of the individual making the allegation, and any documentation possessed by Spa Palace or any of its employees or staff relevant to the allegation.

MONETARY RELIEF FOR COMPLAINANT

  1. Spa Palace shall pay a total of $5,000 to Complainant, in a total of five payments described below, to compensate him as authorized by 42 U.S.C. 12188(b)(2)(B); 28 C.F.R. § 36.504(a)(2):
    1. Beginning on or before September 15, 2019, Spa Palace will make payments towards the monetary relief for Complainant in monthly installments paid on or by the 15th day of every month in the amount of $1,000.
    2. Each payment shall be made by cashier’s check or money order made payable to Complainant (in his legal name) and delivered to counsel for the United States.
    3. A payment will be considered delinquent if it is more than 15 days late.
  2. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the United States Attorney’s Office will deliver to Spa Palace a release signed by the Complainant. The release is attached hereto as Exhibit B.

CIVIL PENALTIES

  1. Spa Palace shall pay a total of $5,000 to the United States, in a total of five payments described below, as a civil penalty and to vindicate the public interest, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(C)(i):
    1. Beginning on or before February 15, 2020, Spa Palace will make payments towards the civil penalty in monthly installments paid on or by the 15th day of every month in the amount of $1,000.
    2. Each payment shall be made by cashier’s check or money order made payable to the United States Treasury and delivered to counsel for the United States.
    3. A payment will be considered delinquent if it is more than 15 days late.

IMPLEMENTATION

  1. In consideration for entering this Agreement, the United States will refrain from undertaking further enforcement action relating to this investigation or from filing a civil action alleging discrimination based on the allegations set forth above. However, the United States may review Spa Palace’s compliance with this Agreement or Title III of the ADA at any time. If the United States believes that any portion of this Agreement or Title III of the ADA has been violated, it may institute a civil action in the appropriate U.S. District Court to enforce Title III of the ADA, following written notice to Spa Palace of the possible violation and a period of 21 days in which Spa Palace has the opportunity to cure the alleged violation.
  2. Failure by the United States to enforce any provisions in this Agreement is not a waiver of its right to enforce other provisions of this Agreement.
  3. If any term 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 Spa Palace shall engage in good faith negotiations in order to adopt 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.
  4. This Agreement is binding on Spa Palace, including all principals, agents, executors, administrators, representatives, employees, successors in interest, beneficiaries, and assigns. In the event that Spa Palace seeks to sell, transfer, or assign all or part of its interest during the term of this Agreement, as a condition of sale, transfer, or assignment, Spa Palace will obtain the written agreement of the successor, buyer, transferee, or assignee to all obligations remaining under this Agreement for the remaining term of this Agreement.
  5. The signatory for Spa Palace represents that he or she is authorized to bind Spa Palace to this Agreement.
  6. This Agreement is the entire agreement between the United States and Spa Palace on the matters raised herein and no other statement, promise or agreement, either written or oral, made by any party or agents of any party, is enforceable. This Agreement can only be modified by mutual written agreement of the parties.
  7. This Agreement is a public document. The Parties agree and consent to the United States’ disclosure of this Agreement and information concerning this Agreement to the public subject to any applicable privacy laws.
  8. This Agreement is not intended to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other law that is not specifically addressed in this Agreement. Nothing in this Agreement changes Spa Palace’s obligation to otherwise comply with the requirements of the ADA.

EFFECTIVE DATE/TERMINATION DATE

  1. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
  2. The duration of this Agreement will be three years from the effective date.

 

 

Dated:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dated:

FOR THE UNITED STATES

NICOLA T. HANNA
United States Attorney
Central District of California   

KAREN P. RUCKERT
Assistant United States Attorney
Chief, Civil Rights Section, Civil Division


By: /s/ Acrivi Coromelas 
ACRIVI COROMELAS
Assistant United States Attorney
Civil Rights Section, Civil Division
300 N. Los Angeles Street, Suite 7516
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 894-2404
E-mail: acrivi.coromelas@usdoj.gov

 

FOR CJ SPA GROUP, INC. D/B/A SPA PALACE

By: /s/ Calvin Chun
CALVIN CHUN
Chief Executive Officer
CJ Spa Group, Inc. d/b/a Spa Palace