May 25, 2023
Source: U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee
NASHVILLE – Memphis-based Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has agreed to resolve allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide effective communication to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, announced United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis. As part of the settlement, Methodist will pay $5,000 in penalties to the United States and $18,000 to the complainant.
“We are committed to enforcing the rights of persons with disabilities in Tennessee,” said United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis. “It is vital that individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can communicate with health care professionals and the Americans with Disabilities Act requires as much.”
The United States alleged that on multiple occasions, Methodist failed to provide the complainant, a deaf individual, with an on-site American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, and in one incident Methodist used the complainant’s minor child to interpret on her behalf, which the United States contends violates the ADA.
The United States also alleged that the use of an interpreter was necessary for effective communication and the lack of a requested interpreter resulted in the complainant either rescheduling medical care for her children or proceeding without the assistance of an interpreter or using other auxiliary aids.
During the investigation, the United States also became aware of additional complaints concerning Methodist’s failure to provide effective communication to several other individuals who are deaf at various Methodist locations. Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, Methodist has agreed to provide effective communication to its patients and companions on a timely basis and will train its personnel and physicians as to effective communication at multiple hospital locations. Methodist also will designate an ADA liaison who can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by patients and/or companions who are deaf or hard of hearing. Significant reporting requirements have also been instituted during the two-year term of the Settlement Agreement, including a requirement to notify the United States of any complaints related to the failure to provide effective communication to deaf or hard of hearing patients and their companions.
The civil claims settled by this Settlement Agreement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kara F. Sweet investigated the complaint and negotiated the Settlement Agreement.
The Department of Justice has a number of publications available to assist entities in complying with the ADA including a Technical Assistance Publication entitled: ADA Requirements: Effective Communication and a Business Brief on Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hospital Settings. For more information on the ADA and to access these publications, visit ada.gov or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD). ADA complaints may be filed by email to email@example.com.
More information from the DOJ:
ADA Requirements: Effective Communication
Business Brief on Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hospital Settings