Peroutka and Peroutka, a Pasadena, Md.-based collection law firm, has settled charges brought by the U.S. Justice Department that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to accept calls using Video Relay Service.
The settlement requires Peroutka and Peroutka to pay $30,000 in compensation to the complainants, to change its policies and procedures to ensure that it accepts Video Relay Service calls and treats people with disabilities equally and to train its employees on the ADA’s requirements.
The Justice Department had said the law firm discriminated against deaf individuals by not accepting Video Relay Service calls. The service allows a deaf, hard-of-hearing or mute person to communicate with another party through the use of a video sign language interpreter. Peroutka employees, according to complaints, also hung up on one individual and informed another that the firm could not help her and that she had to call back at a specific time when a manager was present.
“People with disabilities cannot be denied services simply because they use alternative ways to communicate,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez. “The ADA does not tolerate this type of discrimination and neither does the Justice Department.”
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities at places of public accommodation, including law firms. Among other things, Title III requires public accommodations to afford people with disabilities full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, and facilities.
The ADA also requires public accommodations to make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to afford equal access to people with disabilities, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the goods or services provided.