WACO – U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff of the Western District of Texas announced today that the United States has reached an agreement with the owners and managers of Executive Inn & Suites, a hotel in Killeen, Texas, to resolve allegations they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying equal access to individuals with disabilities who use service dogs.
The settlement resolves allegations initially brought by a disabled veteran who utilizes a service animal and wheelchair due to an amputation of his left leg. The veteran alleged that upon learning that the veteran was accompanied by a service dog the hotel desk clerk refused to honor his reservation because the hotel owner did not allow any type of dog. Hotel staff insisted that the veteran leave, called the local police department to escort the veteran off hotel property, and refused to refund his room rental fee.
The ADA generally requires public accommodations to provide access to individuals with disabilities who use service animals. Under the ADA, public accommodations must generally modify their policies, practices or procedures – such as a no-pet policy – to permit the use of a service animal by a person with a disability. A service dog generally may go wherever the public is allowed to go, and a public accommodation may not require documentation about the service dog.
“Individuals with disabilities, including veterans who have sacrificed for our country, have a right under federal law to the equal enjoyment of public accommodations,” said U.S. Attorney Hoff. “Our office is committed to ensuring that our veterans enjoy equal access to public accommodations, such as restaurants, hotels, and shops.”
Under the agreement, J&J Executive Suites LLC, Kyung Sang Lee and Gaesun Lee will ensure that the hotel adopts and implements a service dog policy; provides training on the service dog policy to employees and managers; and posts the service dog policy at their facilities and in their advertising. They will also pay money damages to the veteran as compensation for the effects of the discrimination and the harm he endured as a result of their actions.
People interested in finding out more about the ADA or this settlement agreement can call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD) or access the ADA website at http://www.ada.gov.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Liane Noble and Thomas Parnham represented the United States in this matter.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.