DJ # 202-54-22
- This matter was initiated by a complaint, dated May 4, 1996, filed with the United States Department of Justice ("the Department"), against Denny's Restaurant (Denny's), in Lumberton, N.C. The complaint was investigated by the Department under the authority granted by section 308 (b) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12188. The complainant, XX XXXX, is blind and uses a service animal. Mr. XXXX alleges that he, his wife, and his service animal, stopped at Denny's on Saturday May 4, 1996. Mr. XXXX alleges that, upon entering the restaurant, he was stopped by the waitress and informed that he could not be seated or served as long as he was with the dog. He was told that the dog had to wait outside. Mr. XXXX alleges that his leader dog was in full harness and he informed the waitress of his disability and that this was a service animal. At this time, the manager came over and repeated what the waitress had said. Mr XXXX alleges that even though he told the manager that refusing to serve him was a violation of State and Federal law, the manager said he did not care about the law, and again refused to admit, seat, or serve Mr. XXXX and his wife. Mr XXXX alleges that other waiting customers protested these actions by the manager and left. Finally he, his wife, and his service dog were refused service and made to leave.
- Denny's denies that it acted unlawfully with respect to the complainant. Denny's alleges that it did not refuse service to the complainant. The restaurant alleges that a couple came into the restaurant on or about May 4, 1996. The couple did not appear to have any disabilities, but they were accompanied by a dog. When confronted about the dog the couple stated that they were training the animal to be a service animal. The manager offered to allow the couple to be seated in another section of the restaurant but the couple declined and left the restaurant.
- The Department of Justice through its investigation of this complaint, has determined that Mr. XXXX's dog is a service animal within the meaning of the ADA. The parties have agreed to settle this matter without resolving the factual and legal dispute regarding the lawfulness of Denny's actions.
- The parties to this Settlement Agreement ("Agreement") are the United States of America and B&G Management, Inc. d/b/a Denny's in Lumberton, N.C.
- This Agreement does not constitute an admission of liability and/or fault on the part of Denny's. The parties enter into this settlement agreement in order to avoid litigation and hereby agree as follows:
II. Title III Coverage
- Title III of the ADA and its implementing regulation prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability by places of public accommodation. 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12182 ; 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 36.201.
- Denny's is an establishment serving food or drink and is, therefore, a place of public accommodation as defined in section 301(7)(B) of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12181, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 36.104.
- The ADA requires that places of public accommodation make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of service animals by people with disabilities. 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 36.302(c). Although some States have programs to certify service animals, places of public accommodation may not insist on proof of State certification before permitting the entry of a service animal to a place of public accommodation. U.S. Department of Justice, Title III Technical Assistance Manual, ï½§ III-4.2300.
- The complainant, XX XXXX, is an individual with a disability, as defined by the ADA and its implementing regulation. 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12102; 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 36.104.
III. Actions to be Taken by Denny's
- Denny's agrees to take the following actions within 45 days of the date of this Agreement:
- Denny's shall develop and post in a prominent location of its public areas a written policy statement indicating that all persons with disabilities, including those accompanied by service animals, are welcome in the restaurant, and that no proof of an animal's certification as a service animal is required. However, Denny's may inquire of any person bringing an animal into the store whether such an animal is a service animal required because of a disability, as contemplated by the ADA.
- Denny's shall train all present and future staff to ensure that all people with disabilities, including those with service animals, are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner and are afforded the same service and courtesy as that afforded any customer of the restaurant.
- Denny's shall pay to XX XXXX the sum of $1,000 by certified check. The check shall be made payable to XX XXXX. The Cafe shall mail the check to Mr. XXXX by certified mail, return receipt requested. A copy of the check and the transmittal letter shall be sent to counsel for the government.
- Upon completion of the actions required by paragraph 10, the Cafe shall notify the Department of Justice that it has fulfilled its obligations and shall provide the Department of Justice with a copy of Denny's policy statement.
- Under section 308(b)(1)(B) of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12188(b)(1)(B), the Attorney General is authorized to bring a civil action under title III in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist or where a matter of general public importance is raised. In consideration of the Agreement as set forth above, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing a civil suit under title III in this matter.
- The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that this Agreement or any provision thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action in the Federal District Court for North Carolina, or any other appropriate Federal district court, following written notice to B&G Management, Inc., d/b/a Denny's, Lumberton, N.C. 28358 of the possible violation and a period of twenty (20) days in which B&G Management has the opportunity to cure the first alleged violation. The Attorney General is authorized to seek civil penalties pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12188(b)(2)(C). For any subsequent alleged violations of this Agreement, the Department may institute a civil action against B&G Management without any waiting period for B&G Management to cure the alleged violation.
- This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this Agreement or any information contained herein may be made available to any person. The Department shall provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.
- This Agreement shall become effective as of the date of the last signature below.
- This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement shall be enforceable. This Agreement is limited to the facts as set forth in paragraphs 1 through 3, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal, State or local law. This Agreement does not affect Denny's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
For the United States:
Isabelle Katz Pinzler
Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
By:_____________________________ Date: _________________
John L. Wodatch, Chief
Allison Nichol, Deputy Chief
Ron Whisonant, Investigator
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
B&G Management, Inc. d/b/a Denny's
By: ____________________________ Date: ___________________
5201 Fayetteville Road
Lumberton, North Carolina