- On July 19, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska entered a consent decree resolving a simultaneously filed lawsuit against QuikTrip Corporation, a company that owns and operates more than 550 gas stations, convenience stores, travel centers, and truck stops in the Midwest, South, and Southwestern United States. Under the terms of the decree, QuikTrip will remove barriers over a three year period at its current stores to achieve compliance with ADA accessibility requirements; ensure that at least two gas dispensers at current stores and all gas dispensers at future stores are accessible to individuals with disabilities, including the dispenser controls, self-service payment mechanisms, and call buttons for customers who need assistance; adopt, implement, and train store employees on policies for providing refueling and other types of assistance for people with disabilities, serving people who use service animals, and maintaining accessible features, such as accessible parking and routes; upgrade and maintain call buttons for customers with disabilities requesting assistance; and implement and maintain an ADA comment line and a complaint resolution process to resolve ADA-related complaints received from customers. QuikTrip will also design and construct future stores to comply with ADA accessibility requirements and will make its website accessible. In addition, QuikTrip will create a $1.5 million compensatory damages fund for individuals who were victims of discrimination and will pay a civil penalty in the amount of $55,000.
- On July 14, 2010, the owner and operator of the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel in Sacramento, California, entered into a settlement agreement resolving a complaint by a hotel guest with a disability who was required to pay a pet deposit and was assigned to the pet floor because she was accompanied by her service animal. In the settlement, the hotel agreed to adopt an ADA-compliant service animal policy, write to 33 other Sheraton hotels around the country encouraging them to ensure equal access for guests with disabilities who use service animals, and pay $500 in compensatory damages to the complainant.
- On July 19, 2010, Blockbuster, Inc., entered into a settlement agreement with the Department resolving a complaint filed by an individual with a disability who was denied access on multiple occasions at different Blockbuster stores when she attempted to shop while accompanied by a service animal, even after contacting Blockbuster, Inc., and receiving assurances that she would be allowed to shop at Blockbuster stores with her service animal. The agreement requires Blockbuster to adopt and implement a comprehensive service animal policy, provide training to employees at more than 3,000 retail stores throughout the United States about the policy, post its service animal policy and signs welcoming service animals in each of its stores, and establish a toll-free number and a grievance procedure for resolving ADA complaints from customers. Blockbuster will also pay $12,000 in compensatory damages to the complainant and a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States.
- On September 10, 2010, the American Hospitality Inn in Portland, Oregon, entered into a settlement agreement with the Department resolving a complaint from a man who is blind who, when registering for a room at the hotel, produced a state issued identification card and a Veteran's Administration identification card but was turned away because he did not have a driver's license for identification. Under the terms of the settlement, the hotel will adopt a formal policy on acceptable forms of identification as well as a service animal policy. The hotel will also pay $1000 in compensatory damages to the complainant.
- An individual with congenital heart failure complained that a New Jersey medical clinic refused to allow her into the clinic because she uses a service animal. The clinic adopted a service animal policy, posted signs welcoming service animals, and trained its employees about the policy.
- An individual with a disability who uses a wheelchair complained that an Indiana hotel refused her service because she uses a service animal. The hotel adopted a service animal policy, posted the policy in a conspicuous location, and trained staff on the policy.
- An individual who is deaf and uses a service animal complained that a Tennessee hotel asked him to leave because of the hotel's no pet policy. The hotel agreed to adopt a service animal policy, post information for guests about the policy, train employees about the policy, and provide information to guests about filing an ADA complaint. The hotel also agreed to pay the complainant $750.
- An individual who is blind complained that a Texas convenience store refused to serve him because he uses a service animal. The store agreed to adopt a service animal policy, post signs informing customers about the policy, train employees about the policy, and pay the complainant $1,500
- An individual with a mobility disability who uses a service animal complained that a chain motel in Arizona refused to serve him. The motel agreed to adopt a service animal policy, post signs informing customers about the policy, and train employees about the policy.
- An individual with a disability alleged that a New Jersey medical facility refused to serve him because he uses a service animal. The facility agreed to adopt a service animal policy, train all current and new employees on the policy, post the policy in all of its locations where patients are served, and pay the complainant $1,000.
- An individual who is blind and uses a service animal complained that the manager of a Dallas retail store asked him to leave because of concerns that his service animal would damage store merchandise. The store agreed to adopt a service animal policy, post signs informing customers about the policy, train employees about the policy, and pay the complainant $1,500.
- In Florida, a woman with multiple sclerosis alleged that a restaurant refused to serve her and her husband inside the restaurant because she uses a service animal for balance. The owner offered to serve them in an alley adjacent to the restaurant and, when they refused, insulted them, asked them to leave, and ultimately escorted them out of the building. The restaurant adopted a policy to allow patrons who use service animals to enter and be served in the restaurant, informed employees about the policy, and posted signage indicating that service animals are welcome in the restaurant.
- An individual with low vision who uses a service animal complained that a California restaurant refused to serve him. The restaurant changed its policy and agreed to serve customers who use service animals, developed employee training on service animals and the ADA, made a $500 donation to a service animal organization, and issued an apology letter to the complainant's family who was with him when the incident occurred.
- In New Jersey, a woman who uses a wheelchair complained that the manager of a chain restaurant harassed her and asked her to leave because she uses a service animal for mobility assistance. The national chain changed its policy and agreed to serve customers who use service animals, circulated an article on the updated policy through an internal corporate publication for employees, and trained all employees on the ADA. The chain also posted signs welcoming service animals at each restaurant's entrance. In addition, the manager who asked the complainant to leave sent her an apology letter, and the chain donated $1,000 in the complainant's name to a service animal organization and gave her two $50 gift certificates.
Friday, June 17, 2011
News: DOJ Status Report on Enforcing the ADA Released
The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently released a status report detailing their efforts to enforce Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In this report there are 14 instances involving the denial of access to services or discrimination against a person with a disability because they were accompanied by a service animal (dog) during a period from July 2010- September 2010.