Institute of Residing Settles ADA Criticism, Ensures Entry for Deaf and Laborious of Listening to People | USAO-CT
Leonard C. Boyle, acting US attorney for the borough of Connecticut, announced today that the government has entered into a settlement agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) with the Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital in its own name and on its own behalf has a professional emergency room and managed mental health center at Hartford Hospital. The Institute of Living is a psychiatric center specializing in comprehensive patient care, research and education in the fields of behavioral, psychiatric and addictive disorders and whose services are made available to the public.
This matter was initiated after a complaint was received by Disability Rights Connecticut with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut. Disability Rights Connecticut filed the complaint on behalf of a complainant who is profoundly deaf. The applicant allegedly went to the emergency room at Hartford Hospital and was then transferred to and treated by the institute’s medical staff. Several times during her admission, which lasted several days, the complainant requested a sign language interpreter in order to understand the treatment options and to take part in group therapy sessions as well as to understand and sign the documents made available to her during her stay. She was not provided with a qualified interpreter and was unable to attend group therapy sessions to treat her depression and suicidal ideation. The applicant was also unable to communicate with her treating psychiatrist and did not fully understand why she had been hospitalized.
Title III of the ADA requires public accommodation, including hospital facilities, to take steps to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded, segregated or otherwise treated differently due to the lack of resources and services such as qualified interpreters. The provisions of Title III prohibit public accommodation from requiring a person with a disability to bring another person with him for interpreting. The Title III rules similarly prohibit public accommodation establishments from charging people with disabilities a surcharge for activities, including assistance and services such as interpreters, required to treat a person with a disability in a non-discriminatory manner under the ADA.
The settlement agreement resolves the complaint based on the above allegations that the Institute of Living violated Title III of the ADA by failing to provide effective communication to the complainant. The settlement agreement obliges the institute to provide suitable aids and services, including qualified interpreters, free of charge in all of its patient facilities, if this is necessary for effective communication between these persons. The institute will offer ADA training to all employees. In addition, the institute compensated the complainant in the amount of US $ 10,000.
The ADA empowers the US Department of Justice to investigate complaints and conduct regular compliance reviews of affected facilities. The Department of Justice also has the power to commence civil action in federal court and seek injunctive relief, fines, and civil sanctions in any case that involves a pattern or practice of discrimination, or raises issues of general public concern.
“This case demonstrates the agency’s commitment to protecting the rights of the deaf or hard of hearing and ensuring that these individuals are able to communicate effectively with health professionals,” said Acting US Attorney Boyle. “I am grateful to the Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital for collaborating on this investigation and for dealing with these ADA issues without the need for litigation.”
This matter was handled by U.S. Assistant Attorney Brenda M. Green of the Connecticut District in coordination with the Disability Rights Division of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
Any citizen wishing to file a complaint alleging that a health care provider office or other public accommodation or public facility in Connecticut is inaccessible to people with disabilities can contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 203-821. 3700.
For more information about the ADA, visit www.ada.gov or call the Department of Justice’s toll-free information number at (800) 514-0301 and (800) 514-0383 (TTY). For more information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces, visit www.justice.gov/crt.