Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against disabled persons by public accommodations (Title I governs employment). Last month, the Department of Justice filed suit against a Golden Corral franchisee in Michigan that allegedly refused service to a family with children who suffer from a genetic skin disorder.
According to the complaint, the restaurant manager required the family to leave even after being told that the children's skin blisters were the result of a genetic condition and were not contagious. The manager allegedly told the family that other customers had complained about their presence in the restaurant. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, damages and civil monetary penalties against the business.
Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations from refusing service or otherwise discriminating against persons with disabilities due to their appearance. Customer complaints or the perceived effect of the presence of disabled persons on other customers do not serve as legal defenses to a Title III lawsuit. Store managers and other persons who potentially deal with disabled persons should be trained with regard to Title III's anti-discrimination requirements, as well as their accommodation obligations in the event that a disabled person needs assistance in using the business' goods or services.