NEWARK, N.J. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS OCR) have secured a settlement agreement to resolve allegations that a home healthcare provider discriminated against a person with HIV.
Comfort Hands Home Healthcare LLC (Comfort Hands) of Marlton, New Jersey, a home healthcare provider, has agreed to resolve allegations that it discriminated against a person with HIV in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This settlement follows the government’s investigation in which it found that Comfort Hands unlawfully denied home healthcare services to a potential client based on her HIV status.
“People with HIV should not face discrimination, especially from healthcare providers.” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said. “The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits providers from denying services based on an individual’s HIV status. Today’s agreement will ensure that this home healthcare providers lives up to that obligation going forward. This office remains committed to ensuring that individuals with HIV and other disabilities are protected from unlawful discrimination.”
“The HHS Office for Civil Rights has a long history of taking enforcement actions to protect the rights of people with disabilities, including those with HIV,” OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer said. “Today’s important settlement tangibly contributes to our efforts to ensure nondiscrimination in HHS-funded services. It also advances our newly reinvigorated Olmstead Initiative by removing discriminatory barriers to ensure individuals with disabilities can be served in their own homes and communities.”
Under the settlement agreement, Comfort Hands will implement a non-discrimination policy to ensure that individuals with disabilities, including those with HIV or who are perceived to have HIV, are afforded full and equal opportunities to its benefits and services. Comfort Hands will also provide mandatory non-discrimination training to its employees and pay damages to the individual who experienced this act of discrimination.
The ADA prohibits places of public accommodation, such as Comfort Hands, from discriminating against people with, or perceived to have, disabilities, including HIV. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination based on disability in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance from HHS, while Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does the same with respect to certain health programs and activities.
Last year, U.S. Attorney Sellinger created a Civil Rights Division with the sole focus of enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the ADA, with the goal of protecting and upholding the civil rights of those in our community. Individuals who believe they may have been victims of discrimination may file a complaint with the U.S Attorney’s Office at http://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/civil-rights-enforcement/complaint.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan Millenky and Emily B. Goldberg of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Civil Rights Division and Jaimenys Taveras, Investigator, Eric Brown, SEOS, Frank Musumici, SEOS, Linda C. Colon, Regional Manager and Fernando Morales, Regional Civil Rights Attorney HHS OCR, Attorney Advisors, Marie Soueid and Chayhann Mars, Office of the General Counsel Civil Rights Division.