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Manhattan U.S. Attorney Files Lawsuit Against Owners And Operators Of Rosa Mexicano Restaurants For Violations Of The Americans With Disabilities Act

Monday, October 15, 2012

Complaint Alleges Multiple Violations at Three Rosa Mexicano Locations in Manhattan

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States has filed a lawsuit against ROSA MEXICANO COMPANY, WEST 62 OPERATING LLC, FENIX RESTAURANT, INC., and ROSA MEXICANO USQ LLC., the owners and operators of the three Manhattan locations of the popular Rosa Mexicano restaurant chain for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”). The lawsuit is the first to be brought as a result of the Manhattan Restaurants ADA Compliance Initiative that was undertaken by this Office in September 2011 in an effort to evaluate the ADA compliance of the Manhattan restaurants that were designated “most popular” in the 2011 Zagat Guide.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “When it comes to restaurants, New York City is arguably the world’s crown jewel, and the purpose of this initiative is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to its offerings. With today’s lawsuit alleging multiple violations of the ADA at three Rosa Mexicano locations in the City, that is exactly what we are doing. As alleged, neither the ADA, nor the warnings from this Office were enough to convince these restaurants to comply with the law, and the goal of this lawsuit is to see that they finally do.”

The following allegations are based on the Complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court and other public documents:

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office announced its Manhattan Restaurants ADA Compliance Initiative in September 2011. As part of the review, restaurant owners and operators of the 2011 Zagat Guide’s “most popular” New York City restaurants, including the three Rosa Mexicano locations that are the subject of today’s lawsuit, were asked to complete a Survey Form, supplied by the Government, indicating their restaurant's accessibility. In some cases, Department of Justice investigators then conducted on-site inspections to confirm survey responses and to evaluate compliance with federal ADA regulations. Owners and operators of restaurants found to be non-compliant may be given the option of entering into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement with the Government whereby they voluntarily agree to upgrade their facilities to meet ADA requirements. Owners and operators found to be engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination, or that fail to enter Voluntary Compliance Agreements could face a civil lawsuit brought by the Government and/or be subject to penalties, including monetary damages and civil fines. After being alerted by this Office to areas in which they were not complying with the ADA, numerous restaurants in New York City have already begun the voluntary process of making their sites compliant. The Rosa Mexicano restaurants were found to be engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination.

There are numerous violations of the ADA at each of the Manhattan Rosa Mexicano restaurant locations: 61 Columbus Avenue (“Rosa Mexicano Lincoln Center”), 1063 First Avenue (“Rosa Mexicano First Avenue”), and 9 East 18th Street (“Rosa Mexicano Union Square”). These violations pertain to the restaurants’ entrances, waiting areas, bar areas, dining areas, and restrooms. Most significantly, as described in the Complaint, Rosa Mexicano Lincoln Center lacks an accessible main entrance, and its “alternate entrance” – which requires patrons to enter on the restaurant’s second floor through an adjacent building – is also non-compliant in several respects. Rosa Mexicano First Avenue similarly lacks an accessible entrance, and all three of its restrooms are inaccessible to persons with disabilities. At Rosa Mexicano Union Square, both the main and “alternate” entrances fail to comply with the ADA, as do the men’s and women’s restrooms.

Since President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law in 1990, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has taken a leading role in bringing numerous New York City institutions into compliance with the ADA regulations. They include Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, the Apollo Theater, the Puck Building, the Shubert Theaters, the Rainbow Room, and Radio City Music Hall.

The Restaurants Initiative is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amy A. Barcelo, Christopher Connolly, and Cristine Irvin Phillips are in charge of the review.

To file a complaint alleging that a restaurant or any other place of public accommodation within the Southern District of New York is not accessible to persons with disabilities, use the Civil Rights Complaint Form available on the United States Attorney's Office's website, Complaints should be sent to:

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York

86 Chambers Street, 3rd Floor

New York, New York, 10007

Attention: Chief, Civil Rights Unit




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