LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A Westlake spa that denied service to a blind customer is paying the price thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The incident took place in July 2017 after the blind man booked a massage at Spa Palace on South Union Avenue. When he arrived, an employee told him he couldn’t enter the facility or receive a massage because “his kind” wouldn’t be able to follow instructions and the massage therapist couldn’t care for him.
The blind customer left and about 45 minutes later, received a call from another Spa Palace employee who said he could return and receive a massage. He did not return.
This week the spa reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice under the Americans with Disabilities Act and will pay the man $5,000 in damages. It will also pay a $5,000 penalty to the U.S. Treasury and agree to change its policies and implement training to ensure that individuals with disabilities won’t be discriminated against.
Those policies, posted on the spa’s website and on its front desk, said that “weak elderly seniors” weren’t permitted to enter the spa without a legal guardian and that “guests who require special assistance” should be personally accompanied at all times by a personal attendant.
The rules also prohibited the Spa Palace’s staff from helping people in and out of wheelchairs, and said that if such assistance is required, customers should bring a personal attendant.
“Individuals with disabilities, including those who are blind, should not be excluded from activities or services on the basis of stereotypes or false assumptions,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna.