Saturday, June 17, 2017

Refusal To Make American Sign Language Interpreter Services Available To Deaf Persons Raises Fair Housing Issues For Dozens Of Nursing Homes & Assisted Living Facilities In Metro NYC-Area

From a recent announcement by the New York City-based Fair Housing Justice Center:
  • [T]he Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) announced that several defendants have settled a lawsuit that was filed in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) in November 2015. The lawsuit, which stemmed from an eight-month systemic testing investigation by the FHJC, alleges that the operators of dozens of nursing home and assisted living facilities refused to make American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter services available to Deaf persons.

    Though denying the allegations, the following defendants have entered into separate agreements to resolve the housing discrimination lawsuit, Crown Nursing Home Associates, Inc., Cliffside Nursing Home, Inc., Forest View Nursing Home, Inc., Ultimate Care Assisted Living Management, LLC, EBC White Plains, LLC, Hungry Harbor Care, LLC, Sayville Senior Care, LLC, and Armonk Senior Care, LLC.

    The settlements were so-ordered by the Hon. Judge Raymond J. Dearie in December 2016 and April 2017. The settlement agreements contain similar injunctive relief that apply to thirteen assisted living facilities and four nursing homes. Some of the provisions include:
  • 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 several years for review by the FHJC to document efforts made to comply with the terms of the settlements.
  • In addition, the settlements also provide for a monetary recovery totaling $242,500, including damages and attorney’s fees. Claims against other defendants are still pending.

    FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg stated, “These settlements help to ensure that Deaf and Hard of Hearing populations have greater access to assisted living and nursing care in the New York City region.” The FHJC has partnered with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) to provide training to key personnel in the facilities named in these settlements as well as in settlements that were reached last year in a similar lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York.

    The FHJC is represented by Eric Baum and Andrew Rozynski of Eisenberg & Baum, LLP.

    The mission of the FHJC, a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen fair housing enforcement in the New York City region.
Source: Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility Operators Settle Fair Housing Claims Brought by the FHJC (Agreements Ensure Deaf & Hard Of Hearing Populations Can Access Auxiliary Aids & Services).

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