First of all I have psoriasis. psoriasis is NOT contagious. About two and a half months ago I voluntarily entered into a 28 day drug and alcohol treatment program in Kentucky. I live in Arizona now. I think it is important to say that my psoriasis was noticeable from day one. I was even medically checked by the nurse and she said nothing. So I started my treatment, with my psoriasis being visible every day, for one week. After one week the nurse comes to my room and says because of my psoriasis I have to leave the program immidiatly. I was completly blindsided and baffled. I did not want to leave the program because I needed serious help. They said there was nothing they could do and forced me to leave the next day. Was I discriminated against and if so can I sue them for discrimination?
I am a California attorney and not eligible to give legal advice in your state. The following is information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT PROVIDE SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I refer to your state's laws, that only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that appeared relevant. However, you should not rely on any comment I make regarding your state's law. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state.
Yes, there is a law that prohibits what happened to you. However, there is no realistic way to enforce this law. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits public accommodations, including the drug treatment program, from discriminating on the basis of disability. http://www.ada.gov/taman3.html
A public accommodation may not discriminate against an individual with a disability in the operation of a place of public accommodation. Individuals with disabilities may not be denied full and equal enjoyment of the "goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations" offered by a place of public accommodation. The phrase "goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations" applies to whatever type of good or service a public accommodation provides to its customers or clients. In other words, a public accommodation must ensure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities. (28 CFR 36.201-36.213)
But as I said, the law does not appear to provide a remedy in your situation. Remedies available in a private suit may include a permanent or temporary injunction, restraining order, or other order, but not compensatory or punitive money damages or civil penalties. In this context, in a practical sense, what this means you can sue to make the business comply with the law in the future, but there is no remedy for past discrimination. This might make more sense if you consider that this part of the ADA, Title III, is focused on physical accessibility -- ramps, wide doorways, handicapped stalls in restroom, etc.
The U.S. Department of Justice can pursue litigation against businesses if the DOJ believes there is a pattern and practice of discrimination, or discrimination that raises an issue of public concern.
Also, the DOJ will investigate complaints of Title III violations and conduct periodic reviews to monitor compliance. Any individual who believes he, she, or a specific class of persons has been discriminated against may request an investigation. If the DOJ has reason to believe an entity violated Title III, it may initiate a compliance review. You can send a complaint to:
Office on the Americans with Disabilities Act
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-9998
This really doesn’t help you much. Please check your own state's laws to determine if there are laws that prohibit discrimination in public accommodation.
You might consider writing a letter to the treatment program and telling them why you believe the program violated your rights and that you are considering filing a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Say you wanted to give the facility the opportunity to respond to your allegation before you submitted the formal complaint, and that you would welcome a written response and proposed remedy. Send the letter by certified mail and keep a copy for your records. The facility is not required to respond. If it does respond, it is not required to tell you anything or offer you anything. However, it might, so why not try?
*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline