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Judge Rules Franklin Institute in Violation of ADA

In a recent ruling of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, U.S. District Judge Gerald McHugh ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires personal care attendants, or PCAs, to be given free admission to public accommodations when accompanying their disabled clients.

This ruling comes in a case brought against the Franklin Institute by a disabled man who attended the museum and paid admission not only for himself, but for his PCA. The Plaintiff, Michael Anderson, argued that he needs his personal assistant to perform virtually every task during daily life, and thus would not have been able to visit the Franklin Institute without his attendant, thus charging his PCA the costs of admission was illegal discrimination in that it effectively charged him twice the amount of a non disabled visitor.

Disability discrimination is the unequal treatment of an individual based on that individual’s real or perceived disability. It is not uncommon for a person with a disability to need special assistance whether it’s a PCA, a special entrance like a ramp to access a public place, rails in a bathroom stall and the like. “Equal” access is a right to be treated on the same footing as the person without a disability. Oftentimes this can be achieved by way of a reasonable accommodation.

Agreeing with Mr. Anderson, Judge McHugh wrote that the Plaintiff, Anderson, “is effectively denied meaningful admission unless he pays for the admission of his employed PCAs. Nondisabled persons enter [Franklin Institute] and participate after paying only for themselves. Anderson and other similarly situated disabled persons do not have that luxury.”

Through proceedings, the Franklin Institute argued that disabled persons, such as Anderson, are treated equally to all other patrons who are required to pay an additional fee when entering with a guest, such as a child who needs a chaperone. McHugh stated this rather defeats the purpose of the ADA, the point of which is to level the playing field for people with disabilities.

What does this mean for you? It could mean that you have been denied the treatment due to you under the Americans with Disabilities Act, that you may have a claim against that company or institution if you’ve been the victim of disparate treatment due to a disability. If you are a disabled American and believe your rights under the ADA have been violated you may be entitled to compensation. Call our Media Employment Discrimination Attorneys and schedule a free consultation today.

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