Is it discrimination if a senior living center fails to make reasonable accommodations for the hearing impaired?
Many senior citizens suffer from impaired hearing or deafness. Yet a major provider of assisted living allegedly refused to provide sign American Sign Language interpreters at some of its facilities, despite requests for them.
Settlement Includes a Number of Nursing Home Operators and Facilities
Now the assisted living operator, Atria Senior Living, has agreed to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought against it by the Fair Housing Justice Center in New York. The complaint involved Atria’s Riverdale residence in the Bronx and its Long Island residence, Atria South Setauket. Atria has admitted no wrongdoing but will pay $185,000. Three other operators of nursing homes also agreed to settle. In all, ten facilities were involved, bringing to the total settlement to $495,000.
Atria Promises Fairer Treatment for the Hearing-Impaired
The lawsuit was the culmination of an eight-month investigation into the treatment of deaf and hearing-impaired seniors by assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Beyond the monetary settlement it agreed to pay, Atria also committed to making reasonable accommodations for those suffering from deafness or hearing deficit.
Settlement Provides for Specific Changes in Practices and Policies
Some of the steps Atria agreed to take include:
- Providing access to auxiliary services, including sign language interpreters;
- Updating signage, websites, admissions applications, brochures and residency agreements to inform existing and prospective residents about fair housing laws and the availability of ASL interpreters;
- Training key staff on the protections of the fair housing and other civil rights laws for deaf people. Atria will also work with National Association of the Deaf to develop a training program for staff on best practices for working with the deaf or hard-of-hearing and staff will receive sensitivity training.
- Maintaining records and making them available for review by the FHJC to ensure compliance with the terms of the settlement.
The settlement terms apply not just to the two facilities named in the lawsuit but also to other Atria settlements in the New York metropolitan area
If you feel you have been treated inequitably because of a hearing impairment or other disability, your rights may have been violated. An attorney skilled in New York disability law can advise you of your options and help you get the fair treatment and compensation you deserve.