Midtown Neurology Agrees To Resolve Alleged Violations Of The Americans With Disabilities Act
ATLANTA - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia has reached a settlement agreement with Midtown Neurology, P.C. to resolve an investigation into allegations that it violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to ensure effective communication with individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.
An investigation was initiated by a complaint filed with the United States alleging that on at least three occasions Midtown Neurology failed to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services when necessary to ensure effective communication. The complainant (“V.M.”) is deaf and uses American Sign Language as her primary means of communication. On three separate visits to Midtown Neurology, V.M. alleged Midtown Neurology failed to provide a qualified sign language interpreter when necessary to ensure effective communication. During one of the visits to Midtown Neurology, V.M. alleged she underwent an elective medical procedure which was very painful. Because V.M. did not have effective communication before and during this visit, she was scared and did not understand what was happening. According to V.M., she cried, yelled, and tried to ask the doctor to stop the procedure. Because the doctor did not understand her request, the doctor continued the procedure despite V.M’s request. Midtown Neurology denied these allegations but agreed to cooperate with the United States Attorney’s Office to resolve the complaint.
“Every person should have the ability to fully participate in their own health care decisions as well as the decisions that impact their loved ones,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Our office will continue to devote resources to eradicate barriers to health care for persons with disabilities.”
“The Department of Justice takes these civil rights violations seriously,” said Eve L. Hill, Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. The U.S. Attorneys are key partners in stopping discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the critical area of health care and we are very pleased to be working with them.”
Under the settlement agreement, Midtown Neurology agreed to ensure that it provides effective communication to patients who are deaf and hard of hearing in the future. In the future, at the time a person who is deaf or hard of hearing makes an appointment, Midtown Neurology will consult with the person who is deaf to determine which aids and services are appropriate. Among other things, Midtown Neurology agreed to hire an outside group to conduct mandatory ADA training for all its employees and to provide reports to the United States Attorney’s Office regarding its compliance with the settlement agreement. Midtown Neurology also agreed to pay $20,000 to the complainant and a civil penalty in the amount of $2,000 to the United States.
The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by health care professionals. Under the ADA, health care providers are required to provide effective communication to individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. When complex, lengthy communication is involved, the ADA generally requires health care professionals to provide qualified sign language interpreters for the person who is deaf or hard of hearing.
This agreement is part of the Department of Justice’s Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, which is a partnership of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorneys’ offices across the nation, to target enforcement efforts on a critical area for individuals with disabilities. The initiative, launched on the 22nd anniversary of the ADA in July 2012, includes the participation of more than 40 U.S. Attorneys’ offices, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. Information about the initiative can be found at www.ada.gov/usao-agreements.htm.
Assistant United States Attorney Aileen Bell Hughes is representing the United States in this matter.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan.