U.S. Attorney’s Office Gets Relief Under ADA for 10-Year-Old Deaf Soccer Player
DENVER – U.S. Attorney Jason R. Dunn announced today that the United States has resolved a claim of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against Colorado Rush Soccer Club. The initial complaint was brought by the family of a former youth player who is deaf.
“John” was seven years old in the fall of 2017, when he began playing soccer on a Colorado Rush-sponsored team. Because John is deaf, he requires auxiliary aids and services to communicate with his coaches and fellow teammates during practices and games. Without some communication assistance, John could not understand what was going on during soccer practices and games. Colorado Rush initially provided auxiliary aids and services for John.
The family alleged that in January of 2018, Colorado Rush stopped providing auxiliary aids and services to John to help him communicate, claiming that it was too expensive. Colorado Rush informed John’s family that the family would be responsible for ensuring that John could effectively communicate during Colorado Rush’s soccer practices and games. The family alleged that they hired their own sign language interpreter for John, or John’s father provided interpretation, for hundreds of practices or games. The family did this so that John could play soccer with his peers in the spring and fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019. Ultimately, the family decided that they could no longer play soccer with Colorado Rush because of the burden of having to provide effective communication for their son.
To resolve the complaint, Colorado Rush agreed to pay $11,000 in compensatory damages and civil penalties. It also agreed to adopt policies and procedures affirming that under Title III of the ADA, Colorado Rush is obligated to provide effective communication to individuals with disabilities through the provision of auxiliary aids and services.
“All youth sports leagues, whether public or private, must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “We are pleased that Colorado Rush has agreed to adopt policies that comply with the Act. Those policies will help ensure that kids with disabilities now have the same opportunities to participate in youth sports programs as kids without disabilities.”
2020 marks the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Justice Department plays a central role in advancing the nation’s goal of equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. The Justice Department and U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to use its enforcement and technical assistance tools to eliminate unlawful discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeyen Wu.