The Department of Justice announced today the settlement of its lawsuit against the Golden Corral restaurant in Westland, Mich., which alleged that the owners and operators of the Golden Corral violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying service to a mother and her minor children based on the appearance of the children’s skin due to a genetic skin disorder.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, alleged that the manager of the Golden Corral restaurant demanded that Danielle Duford and her four daughters leave the restaurant based on the appearance of the children’s skin caused by a genetic skin disorder, epidermolysis bullosa, which causes blisters to form on the skin in response to minor injuries and temperature changes. Despite Duford informing the restaurant manager of her children’s disability and repeatedly emphasizing that they did not have a contagious disease, the manager required the family to immediately leave the restaurant, claiming that he had received complaints from other customers. Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, such as restaurants, from discriminating against people on the basis of disability, or their association with an individual with a disability, in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods or services offered.
Under the settlement agreement, which must still be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Stephen J. Murphy III, the defendants will pay $50,000 in damages to Duford and her children and $10,000 in civil penalties to the United States. The defendants will also develop and maintain a non-discrimination policy which covers service to customers with disabilities at the Golden Corral restaurant, and provide training to their employees on their obligations under the ADA.
“No one should be excluded from participating in the basic activities of daily living on account of fears of their disability, nor should children be shamed from going out in public,” said Eve Hill, Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We are confident today’s settlement sends that message.”
“We hope that today’s settlement will help prevent discrimination based on unfounded fears by raising awareness of the duties to accommodate individuals with less common disabilities,” said Barbara L. McQuade, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan K. DeClercq in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, in collaboration with the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.
More information about the ADA is available at the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY) and via the ADA website at www.ada.gov or through contacting the U.S. Attorney’s civil rights hotline at 313-226-9151.