Justice Department Pats Self On Back For Pizza Restaurant
Settlement, And More
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 6, 2004
DOWNINGTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA--The U.S. Department of Justice announced in a statement Friday that it had settled an accessibility complaint against Primavera Pizza Kitchen, a restaurant in this small town east of Philadelphia.
A paralyzed veterans group filed the original complaint because two areas of the restaurant were constructed at a level above the main dining floor without providing access to customers with disabilities. The group claimed that the restaurant violated state accessibility law, along with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act because it was built 10 years after the federal law was passed. The owner had received a state waiver, the statement read, but that did not resolve the business's obligations under the ADA.
Under the settlement, the owner has agreed to make both raised areas fully accessible. There was no mention of monetary damages or penalties in the Justice Department statement.
The statement went on to applaud the agency for its "continued efforts under President George W. Bush's New Freedom Initiative," noting that since the initiative was announced three years ago, its Civil Rights Division has resolved 354 disability discrimination complaints through informal means, as well as 131 through formal settlement agreements. The statement went on to say the department has entered 13 consent decrees and successfully resolved over 500 complaints through mediation.
"Compliance with the ADA is good business," said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Departments Civil Rights Division. "Small businesses are often simply unaware of their obligations. To the extent that we can help educate them, streamline the regulatory process, and achieve voluntary compliance, both the business and disability communities will benefit."
The statement made no mention of the fact that businesses and builders have had 14 years to learn about the ADA, or that the Bush administration has filed briefs opposing the ADA in Supreme Court cases and has tried to appoint to federal judgeships people who have opposed the federal civil rights law.