Three companies operating more than two dozen assisted living and skilled nursing facilities in New York will pay a total of $245,675, including damages and attorneys’ fees, to settle a federal lawsuit that accused them of housing discrimination against deaf and hard-of-hearing residents and prospective residents.
The settlement with Allure Rehabilitation Services, Cassena Care and Centers for Specialty Care Group — which deny the allegations — and 31 affiliated facilities in the New York City region concludes a lawsuit filed in November 2015, the Fair Housing Justice Center said Monday. The center said it previously had reached settlements with other defendants in the case.
The lawsuit followed an eight-month investigation by the FHJC that resulted in claims that several operators did not make American Sign Language interpreter services available to deaf and hard-of-hearing residents and prospective residents. As part of the case’s resolution, a judge Dec. 5 ordered the operators to:
- Not refuse to admit prospective residents because they are deaf or hard-of-hearing, and not to refuse to provide a “reasonable accommodation” to obtain auxiliary services, including ASL interpreters, when appropriate for effective communication;
- Adopt policies and procedures designed to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing people have access to ASL interpreters or other auxiliary services as needed;
- Train key facility staff members about the legal rights of deaf people under fair housing and other civil rights laws, as well as about best practices for working with deaf and hard-of-hearing people; and
- Agree to document efforts to comply with the settlement terms and to make those records available for review by the FHJC.
Settlements that the FHJC reached with all of the defendants in this federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York and in a similar case filed in the Southern District of New York affecting 35 assisted living communities and 61 nursing homes in the New York City area yielded a total monetary recovery of almost $1.2 million in damages and attorneys’ fees.
FHJC President Robert Martin said the center was pleased with the outcome of the cases, and two attorneys who work for the firm representing the center called the litigation “groundbreaking.”