Tennessee-Based Life Care Center Of Hickory Woods To Pay $12,000 To Resolve Americans With Disabilities Act Complaint
Life Care Centers Nationwide To Adopt Service Animal Policy
The Antioch, Tennessee-based company that owns and does business as Life Care Center of Hickory Woods agreed to pay $12,000 and to adopt a written service animal policy to resolve an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint, announced Don Cochran, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. Cleveland, Tennessee-based Life Care Centers of America, Inc. also agreed to adopt a service animal policy at all of the facilities that it owns or operates nationwide, said Cochran.
Life Care Center of Hickory Woods in Antioch provides inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation with 24-hour skilled nursing care. Its parent company, Life Care Centers of America, operates or manages more than 200 skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers in 28 states, including over 35 centers in Tennessee.
This settlement arose from a complaint filed by an individual from Smyrna, Tennessee with the Department of Justice about Life Care Center of Hickory Woods. She alleged that the facility had denied equal access to its physical therapy services for people with disabilities who use service animals. She further alleged that Life Care Center of Hickory Woods failed to modify its policies to permit individuals with disabilities to receive physical therapy while accompanied by a service animal.
According to the complainant, she uses a service dog for assistance in the event of a seizure. While undergoing a ten-week course of physical therapy at Life Care Center of Hickory Woods from November 2014 through March 2015, she alleged that several employees confronted her about her service dog, insisted that she provide its vaccination records and discouraged her from bringing her dog to subsequent appointments. As a result of this treatment, the complainant alleged that she felt compelled to stop bringing her service dog to many of her physical therapy appointments.
Life Care Centers of America has agreed to distribute to, and maintain a new written service animal policy at all of the 200 plus long-term care facilities that it operates in the United States. Under this new policy, Life Care agrees to make reasonable modifications in its policies to permit the use of service animals by persons with disabilities and to welcome service animals into Life Care facilities.
Life Care Center of Hickory Woods also adopted a new written service animal policy, in which it agreed to make reasonable modifications in its policies to permit the use of service animals. Life Care Center of Hickory Woods further agreed to train its employees on the new service animal policy and about their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Hickory Woods facility will also post a sign at its facility indicating, “Service Animals Welcome.” Of the $12,000 that Life Care Center of Hickory Woods will pay to resolve this complaint, $7,000 will be paid to the complainant and $5,000 will be paid to the United States as a civil penalty.
Assistant United States Attorney Ellen Bowden McIntyre handled the matter on behalf of the United States.