Saturday, October 29, 2016

Four Nursing Home/Assisted Living Residence Operators To Cough Up $495K, Agree To Make Facilities Friendlier To Hearing-Disabled To Resolve Fair Housing Suit Accusing Owners Of Refusing To Make American Sign Language Interpreter Services Available To Deaf Persons

The New York City-based Fair Housing Justice Center recently announced:
  • [T]he Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) announced that four operators of nursing homes and assisted living facilities have settled a lawsuit filed in federal court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) in November 2015.

    The lawsuit, based on an eight-month testing investigation conducted by the FHJC, alleged that the defendants refused to make American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter services available to Deaf persons. While denying these allegations, the three nursing home operators Archcare/Catholic Managed Long Term Care, Inc., Jewish Home Lifecare, and Elant, along with assisted living provider Atria Senior Living, Inc. entered into separate agreements to settle the lawsuit.

    The settlement agreements contain some common injunctive relief including:
  • Agreement not to refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation to obtain auxiliary services including ASL interpreters when appropriate for effective communication;
  • Adoption of policies and procedures that will ensure Deaf people have access to ASL interpreters or other auxiliary services as needed to provide effective communication when appropriate;
  • Training for key facility staff on the legal rights of Deaf persons under fair housing and other civil rights laws as well as sensitivity issues and best practices for working with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing persons; and
  • Agreement to maintain and make available specific records over a period of years for review by the FHJC to document efforts made to comply with the terms of the settlements.
  • The settlements were so-ordered by the Hon. Judge Paul A. Engelmayer in August, September and early October. The injunctive relief applies to a total of 12 nursing home facilities and 16 assisted living residences operated by the defendants and located in the FHJC service area. In addition to the injunctive relief, the FHJC obtained a total monetary recovery of $495,000 including damages and attorney’s fees.
Source: Fair Housing Lawsuit Alleging Discrimination Against Deaf Elderly People Resolved (Agreements Ensure Access To Auxiliary Services Including American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters At Assisted Living & Nursing Home Facilities).

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