The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with Peroutka and Peroutka P.A., a debt collection law firm based in Pasadena, Md., to resolve allegations that the law firm violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating against people who are deaf.
The settlement agreement resolves two complaints alleging that Peroutka discriminated against deaf individuals by refusing to accept Video Relay Service calls, which were necessary for the complainants to communicate by phone with Peroutka employees. According to the complaint, Peroutka employees also hung up on one complainant and informed the other complainant that Peroutka could not assist her and that she had to call back at a specific time when a manager was present.
“People with disabilities cannot be denied services simply because they use alternative ways to communicate,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez. “The ADA does not tolerate this type of discrimination and neither does the Justice Department.”
Under the settlement, Peroutka is required to pay $30,000 in compensation to the complainants, to revise its policies and procedures to ensure that the office accepts Video Relay Service calls and treats people with disabilities equally, and to train its employees on the ADA’s obligations.
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities at places of public accommodation, including law firms. Among other things, Title III requires public accommodations to afford people with disabilities full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, and facilities. The ADA also requires public accommodations to make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to afford equal access to people with disabilities, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the goods or services provided.
Thanks to SurfKY News, http://surfky.com/index.php/news/national/24643-justice-department-reaches-settlement-with-law-firm-over-discrimination-against-deaf-, 1/3/13; NVRC e-News, 1/4/13 and the Department of Justice.