DOJ Settles HIV Suit Against Alabama Resort
The U.S. Justice Department today announced the settlement of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) discrimination lawsuit against Wales West LLC, owner and operator of Wales West RV Resort and Train and Garden Lovers Family Park in Silverhill, Ala. The settlement, embodied in a consent decree, was approved today by Judge Callie V.S. Granade in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.
In its complaint, the Justice Department alleged that Wales West violated Title III of the ADA when it unlawfully denied full and equal services to a child and his family because the child has HIV. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Wales West, upon learning that a guest family’s 2-year-old child has HIV, banned the family from using the common areas of the RV resort, such as the swimming pool and showers. The child’s parents had planned a month-long stay at the family-themed RV resort while the father commuted to nearby Mobile, Ala., for ongoing cancer treatment. After Wales West denied them full use of the facilities, the family left early the next morning.
Under the terms of the consent decree, Wales West will establish policies, procedures and training practices to ensure that patrons and their families are not discriminated against on the basis of disability. Wales West will pay a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States and $36,000 in damages to the affected family.
“Ensuring that individuals with disabilities are not subjected to discriminatory, stigmatizing treatment based on unfounded fears and stereotypes is critically important. The ADA protects individuals with HIV and other disabilities from this kind of discrimination,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.
“Our office is dedicated to providing equal protection of the laws by ensuring equal access to accommodations for those with impairments or disabilities,” said Kenyen R. Brown, U. S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. “Whether it is discrimination against families in a mobile home park, improper lending practices at a bank or other issues regarding fairness, we fully intend to bring cases each time we learn of wrongful discrimination.”
Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, such as Wales West, from excluding people with disabilities, including people with HIV, from enjoying the services, goods and accommodations provided by the public accommodation.