Justice Department Settles with Alabama Moving Company Over Hepatitis-C Discrimination
The Justice Department reached an agreement today with Kemper Moving Systems Inc., a Huntsville, Alabama, franchise of Two Men and a Truck, to resolve allegations that the moving company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused service because of a customer’s Hepatitis-C.
Under the terms of a two-year consent decree filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, and still pending approval by the court, Two Men and a Truck will adopt a series of non-discrimination training and policy reforms. The company must also pay $10,000 in compensation to the victim and a $3,500 civil penalty to the United States.
“The ADA prevents public accommodations, including moving companies, from denying service to people because of their disability status,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice stands firmly committed to protecting the rights of people who live with Hepatitis-C by combating unlawful discrimination, addressing unfounded stereotypes and eradicating the painful stigma that interferes with their daily lives.”
“The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed just over 25 years ago with the promise of opening up all aspects of American life to individuals with disabilities,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance of the Northern District of Alabama. “Our office is committed to ensuring that this promise is kept and that those individuals with disabilities are given equal access to accommodations and services.”
Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, such as moving companies, from discriminating against people with disabilities, including Hepatitis-C. Through its investigation, the department found that Two Men and a Truck discriminated against a customer when its employees cancelled a move because of the customer’s Hepatitis-C. The company cancelled the move because its employees feared they would get Hepatitis-C, even though the customer explained to both the movers and their supervisors that individuals cannot contract Hepatitis-C by moving furniture or through casual contact. As a result of Two Men and a Truck’s cancellation on the scheduled move-out date, the customer had to pay rent for two apartments, locate last minute replacement movers and incur various other expenses.
Widely accepted professional medical guidelines and standards, including those published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), clarify that Hepatitis-C is transmitted primarily through repeated exposures to infectious blood. According to the CDC, it is not spread through casual contact, including, sneezing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses or through food or water. Two Men and a Truck’s refusal to move an individual with Hepatitis-C marked a clear violation of the ADA based on unfounded fears and stereotypes about a disability.
The agreement announced today requires Two Men and a Truck to implement a nondiscrimination policy along with additional procedures and employee training to prevent discrimination because of a customer’s disability, including Hepatitis-C. It also requires the company to hire or designate an ADA Compliance Official responsible for reviewing all disability-related decisions.
The consent decree, reached under Title III of the ADA – which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by public accommodations – requires Two Men and a Truck to report to the department on its compliance. The department will actively monitor compliance with the terms of the two-year consent decree.
For more information about the ADA or today’s agreement, individuals may access the ADA web page at http://www.ada.gov/ or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).