U.S. Attorney's Office Settles Americans with Disabilities Act Case with Patriot National Bank
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has reached an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) settlement with Stamford-based Patriot National Bank to ensure equal access for individuals with disabilities at all Patriot Bank locations.
The agreement resolves an ADA complaint filed by an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing who alleged that Patriot National Bank would not do business with her over the phone using a telecommunications relay service. Since the commencement of the investigation, Patriot National Bank has worked cooperatively to develop and amend its policies and practices to comply with the ADA and the Department of Justice’s implementing regulations.
“Individuals who have disabilities must not be denied equal access to the services offered by financial institutions simply because of their disability,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “Patriot National Bank’s cooperation during this investigation has shown that it is committed to equal access and effective communication with its customers who have disabilities. Our office has received other complaints against other major financial institutions, alleging that they are also refusing to communicate with individuals with disabilities who use relay services to communicate by telephone. These refusals are discrimination, and we will be looking into these complaints.”
The agreement requires Patriot Bank to accept all relay calls in all of its branches and amend its policies, practices, and training to ensure the removal of barriers to access at its retail stores. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services to persons with disabilities when necessary to ensure effective communication throughout its financial services and programs.
- Adopting and enforcing a policy on effective communication with individuals who are deaf, are hard of hearing or have speech disabilities, for all retail stores and financial services.
- Posting a summary of the policy in retail locations and distributing the policy to current and new employees and contractors.
- Accepting calls made through a relay service operator by customers who are deaf, are hard of hearing or have speech disabilities on an equivalent basis to calls from other customers. This includes eliminating special security provisions applied to relay calls and using the same caller verification procedures whether or not a customer uses a relay service.
- Ensuring that its ATMs and websites are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
- Providing staff training on the ADA and Patriot Bank’s obligations to provide effective communication to individuals with disabilities.
- Posting and maintaining in a conspicuous location in all banking stores a notice stating that individuals with disabilities have a right under the ADA to request a sign language or oral interpreter or other auxiliary aids or services.
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by businesses that serve the public. Among other things, the ADA requires financial institutions, accountants, lawyers, doctors and other businesses to provide auxiliary aids and services that are necessary for effective communication. For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, auxiliary aids include qualified sign language or oral interpreters, use of relay services, computer-assisted real time transcription, and, for simple communications, the exchange of written notes.
Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of discrimination can file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 203-821-3700. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Additional information about the ADA can be found at www.ada.gov, or by calling the Department’s toll-free information line at (800) 514-0301 and (800) 514-0383 (TDD).
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ndidi N. Moses with the assistance of the Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.