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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Justice Department Reaches Settlement Agreement with Massachusetts Business Resolving Allegations of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities

The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with Grand Circle LLC, based in Boston, doing business as Grand Circle Travel, to resolve alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ensure that persons with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids, are afforded full and equal access to the company’s travel services and facilities.

 

The settlement agreement resolves an ADA complaint alleging that Grand Circle Travel discriminated against persons with disabilities by cancelling a bus tour reservation by a person with a mobility disability. The complainant, who used a motorized scooter, alleged that, without offering a reason, Grand Circle Travel cancelled her reservation, made months in advance, although the trip took place with nine additional travelers added shortly before the scheduled departure date.

 

Under the agreement, Grand Circle Travel will not discriminate by excluding or providing unequal treatment to customers with disabilities. Grand Circle Travel also agrees to reasonably modify its policies, practices and procedures when necessary to avoid discriminating against persons with disabilities. Under the agreement, the company also agrees that if a customer with a disability who uses a wheelchair or other mobility aid wants to stow it, then Grand Circle Travel will stow the aid and not assess a fee. Finally, the agreement mandates that Grand Circle Travel post on its website and in its office a notice that it does not discriminate based on disability, provide employees training on its obligations under the ADA, and pay $10,000 in compensation and $10,000 as a civil penalty.

 

“By signing this agreement, Grand Circle Travel has affirmed its commitment to providing equal access to customers with disabilities who, like other Americans, have the same right to enjoy tours free from accommodation barriers,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased that Grand Circle Travel has agreed to make its business open to all.”

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against customers with disabilities by businesses that serve the public. Among other things, the ADA requires travel services and other public accommodations to afford people with disabilities full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, facilities, and accommodations, including providing accessible buses with lifts on bus tours. The ADA specifically requires public accommodations to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices and procedures to permit the use of wheelchairs or other mobility aids by persons with disabilities. The ADA prohibits businesses from imposing a surcharge on a person with a disability or any group of people with disabilities to cover the costs of measures, including reasonable modifications, which are required to provide that person or group with equal access and equal treatment.

 

Those interested in finding out more about this agreement or businesses’ obligations under the ADA may call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov. Additionally, ADA complaints may be filed by email to ada.complaint@usdoj.gov.

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