A recent settlement announced by the Justice Department is a reminder that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) extends to more than just employers and employees. The ADA prohibits public accommodations, such as restaurants, from discriminating against people with disabilities in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods or services offered. The settlement arose from a case in which a restaurant was sued for refusing service to a mother and her minor children based on the appearance of the children’s skin. The children suffered from a genetic skin disorder which causes blisters to form on the skin. Despite the mother’s disclosure of the nature of the skin disorder, and the fact that it was not contagious, the restaurant manager demanded that the mother and her four children leave the restaurant, claiming that he had received complaints from customers about the appearance of the children.
Bottom line: if you are an employer and you operate a public accommodation, you must comply with the ADA both with respect to your employees, and with respect to the public.