U.S. Attorney’s Office Resolves Kennewick Restaurant’s Violation of The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
Owners of restaurant agree to pay damages for denying service to a disabled customer and to take remedial measures at multiple restaurants state-wide
Kennewick, WA – Today, United States Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref announced that the owners of the Rock Wood Fired Pizza, located in Kennewick, (“The Rock Kennewick”) have agreed to take remedial measures over the next three years and pay thousands in compensatory damages to resolve violations of Title III of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). In today’s settlement, the owners of The Rock Kennewick admitted that in November of 2021 they denied service to the disabled individual, because that individual required the use of a service animal, in direct violation of the ADA. The Rock Kennewick fully and promptly cooperated with the investigation and agreed to take concrete remedial measures to comply with the ADA.
According to the settlement, the owners of the Rock Kennewick admitted that at the time of the violation they did not have any written Title III ADA policy or formal ADA training for employees at any of their restaurants. Consequently, the settlement requires the owners of The Rock Kennewick to pay $11,000 in compensatory damages to the disabled individual. The settlement further requires The Rock Kennewick, and the three other “The Rock Wood Fired Pizza” restaurants under the same ownership, to undertake the following:
- implement and utilize a written Title III ADA and service animal policy;
- require annual employee training addressing the requirements of the ADA;
- institute a grievance procedure for customers, potential customers, or employees regarding any alleged ADA violations;
- conspicuously post notices to customers and employees, both online and at their restaurants, that service animals are welcome; and
- submit reports to the United States Attorney’s office every six months for the next three years certifying full compliance with all remedial terms of the agreement and self-reporting any allegations of violations of the ADA so they can be fully investigated.
If the owners fail to fully and promptly institute and comply with all of these measures, the United States Attorney’s Office can file an ADA complaint against the owners for their admitted ADA violation, and any additional ADA violations, seeking up to $75,000 in penalties per violation (in addition to the $11,000 in compensatory damages paid to the aggrieved disabled person). The United States Attorney Office also would be able to seek additional and court ordered remedial measures.
“Persons with disabilities have every right under the law to enjoy the same freedoms and accommodations as everyone,” stated U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref. “The ADA ensures those rights for persons with disabilities in our communities, and, as today’s settlement shows, my office is committed to vigorous enforcement of the ADA. Today’s settlement sends an important message that compliance with the ADA is essential to making Eastern Washington safe and strong for all.” U.S. Attorney Waldref continued, “we want to thank the owners of the Rock Wood Fired Pizza for their cooperation with our investigation, for fully admitting to their conduct, compensating the disabled person they wronged, and for their genuine commitment to ensuring that going forward discrimination against disabled individuals, including those with service animals, will not occur at any of their restaurants state-wide.”
The family of the aggrieved disabled customer filed an ADA complaint online at ADA.gov. The complaint was forwarded to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington, which investigated and, upon confirming the allegations, reached today’s settlement with the owners of The Rock Kennewick, requiring the owners to take remedial action not only in their Kennewick store but in their three other stores located throughout Washington.
“We are so thankful that this individual and their family had the courage and tenacity to come forward, report this discrimination, and assist in our investigation – we could not investigate and address these sorts of ADA violations without people coming forward when they see or experience discrimination,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “We encourage people to report suspected ADA violations at ADA.gov, just as this individual did. For all suspected civil rights violations – including unlawful discrimination of any kind as well as ADA violations in Eastern Washington – we further encourage people to email my office at USAWAE.CivilRights@usdoj.gov or call our Civil Rights Complaint Line at (509) 835-6306,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref.
The settlement was the result of a complaint filed on ADA.gov and the resulting investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington. The full settlement agreement, including the required Service Animal Policy, is available at the bottom of this page. Assistant United States Attorney Tyler H.L. Tornabene of the Eastern District of Washington handled this matter on behalf of the United States.
Assistant United States Attorney and Public Affairs Officer
509-835-6311 or firstname.lastname@example.org