Westport Inn and Restaurant to Make Changes to Comply with Americans with Disabilities Act
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has reached settlement agreements with the Inn at Longshore in Westport, the Pearl at Longshore Restaurant in Westport, and the Town of Westport, to resolve allegations that the Inn at Longshore and the Pearl at Longshore Restaurant were not operating in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”).
The Inn at Longshore leases its premises from the Town of Westport, which provides parking facilities for the Inn at Longshore and Pearl at Longshore Restaurant. The Pearl at Longshore Restaurant leases its premises from the Inn at Longshore.
The settlement agreements resolve an ADA complaint filed by an individual with disabilities alleging that the Inn at Longshore and Pearl at Longshore Restaurant were not accessible for individuals with physical disabilities. The inn, restaurant and town are in the process of making the changes required by the settlement agreements, which include increasing the accessibility of the entrance to the inn, doubling the number of accessible parking spaces, adding an accessible bathroom for use by restaurant patrons and visitors to the inn, providing guest rooms with communication features, ensuring the restaurant’s porch is accessible, and increasing the number of accessible dining seats within the restaurant. The Town of Westport and the Pearl at Longshore Restaurant will make improvements over the next six months and the Inn at Longshore will continue to make improvements over the next two years.
Under federal law, private entities that own or operate places of “public accommodation,” including restaurants and inns, are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of disability. Similarly, public entities, such as municipalities, are obligated under federal law to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not excluded from participation in the public entities’ services, programs or activities because of facilities that are inaccessible or unusable for individuals with disabilities. The ADA authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate complaints and undertake periodic reviews of compliance of covered entities. The Justice Department is also authorized to commence a civil lawsuit in federal court in any case that involves a pattern or practice of discrimination or that raises issues of general public importance, and to seek injunctive relief, monetary damages and civil penalties.
U.S. Attorney Durham noted that the ownership of the Inn at Longshore and the Pearl at Longshore Restaurant have worked quickly and cooperatively with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to address the ADA issues without litigation and that the Town of Westport offered critical and expeditious support in facilitating settlement of these matters.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that individuals are able to access and enjoy the state’s restaurants, inns and other places of public accommodation,” stated U.S. Attorney Durham. “Our Office is committed to enforcing the ADA, which requires businesses to appropriately serve the diverse populations of patrons who live, work, and visit Connecticut. We appreciate the cooperation of the ownership of the Inn at Longshore and the Pearl at Longshore Restaurant, as well as the leadership of the Town of Westport, all of which contributed to the quick resolution of this matter.”
Any member of the public who wishes to file a complaint alleging that any place of public accommodation or public entity in Connecticut is not accessible to persons with disabilities may contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 203-821-3700.
Additional information about the ADA can be found at www.ada.gov, or by calling the Justice Department’s toll-free information line at (800) 514-0301 and (800) 514-0383 (TTY). More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt.
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica H. Soufer of the District of Connecticut in coordination with the Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.