A Norwood gym cancelled a child’s birthday party after learning that the youngster and guests have disabilities, said federal authorities who secured a court settlement requiring the company to ensure equal access in the future.
Paragon School of Artistic Gymnastics violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by “refusing to make reasonable modifications to its program and then excluding children on the basis of disability,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
The school “required parents of any child with a disability that wanted to participate in a Paragon birthday party to provide an individual to ‘shadow’ the child throughout the party, regardless of the child’s disability or individual needs,” Carpenito said.
The ADA requires that “places of public accommodation” such as Paragon “must make reasonable modifications to policies and practices to permit persons with disabilities to participate in its services,” the U.S. attorney said.
Such venues also “cannot impose additional eligibility criteria or a surcharge on persons with a disability wishing to participate in its goods and services, and cannot deny access to good and services to people associated with someone with a disability,” he said.
To settle a complaint brought by Carpenito’s Civil Rights Unit, Paragon agreed to:
- institute policies and procedures to ensure that children with disabilities “are afforded full and equal opportunities to participate in and benefit from its programs and parties”:
- publish on its website a statement of its policy on the prohibition of disability discrimination:
- provide mandatory training on the ADA and its prohibition of disability discrimination to all Paragon employees.
Paragon will also pay $3,000 in damages to the child, $2,000 to the child’s parents and a $1,000 civil penalty to the U.S. Treasury.
Assistant U.S. Kelly Horan Florio of Carpenito’s Civil Rights Unit in Newark handled the case in court.
Individuals who believe they may have been victims of discrimination may file a complaint with the U.S Attorney’s Office: CLICK HERE
Additional information about the ADA can be found at ADA.gov, or by calling the Department of Justice’s toll-free information line at (800) 514-0301 and (800) 514-0383 (TDD) .
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