Commission on Human Rights
December 2006 Rulings of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights
LOUISVILLE – The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights (KCHR) Board of Commissioners on December 14, 2006, ruled to accept six conciliation agreements to resolve discrimination complaints in Kentucky. In other business, the board dismissed 26 complaints with findings of no probable cause, dismissed one complaint under reconsideration with findings of no probable cause, accepted four complaint withdrawals with private settlements, and accepted nine complaint withdrawals with a right to sue.
Kentucky Commission on Human Rights v. Kathy Gray, in Morehead (Rowan Circuit Court, Civil Action No. 05-CI-90100): The complaint alleged discrimination based on disability in the jurisdiction of housing, a violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KRS 344.360) and the U.S. Fair Housing Act. Complainants Steven and Shelley Green rented a house from the respondent from September 2003 to September 2004. Complainant Steven Green began to use a wheelchair in August 2003. The Greens requested permission to build a wheelchair accessible ramp to the ground floor of the house. They allege that Ms. Gray refused to allow the ramp. The plaintiffs allege that after learning of the complainants’ need to modify the premises for accessibility reasons, Ms. Gray informed them they would need to vacate the property. During its investigation, the Kentucky Human Rights Commission found probable cause to believe discrimination had occurred, and the complainants elected to have the claim heard in Rowan Circuit Court pursuant to KRS 344.635. The Rowan Circuit Court requires mediation in all cases, and during that process, the parties agreed to conciliate the matter. Ms. Gray agreed to compensate the Greens in the amount of $10,000. She offered proof that she no longer owns residential rental property in Kentucky, so no training or monitoring for compliance with the law was included in the agreement, except in the event she again acquires rental property. Should that occur, she is required to undergo KCHR monitoring and civil rights compliance training.
Patricia Lockard v. Dr. Aaron Stewart, in Louisville: The complaint alleged discrimination based on disability in a public accommodations, a violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KRS 344.280) and the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act, and retaliation (KRS 344.280). Ms. Lockard, who is deaf, alleged the doctor’s office refused to schedule a sign language interpreter for her when her daughter phoned ahead to request one for Ms. Lockard’s appointment. She filed a complaint as a result of the phone call a few days afterward. But, on the day of the appointment, the doctor did have a sign language interpreter for Ms. Lockard. The commission investigation did find probable cause, however, to believe that the doctor retaliated against Ms. Lockard, because his records showed he sent a letter to her terminating their relationship because she threatened, while in the waiting room, to take legal action if no sign language interpreter was provided. The respondent denied all allegations of violations of the law. The parties agreed to conciliate the matter. The respondent agreed to compensate the complainant in the amount of $1,000 and continue to post the public accommodations welcome notice to clients.
Thomas Steptoe v. Richard Breen Law Offices, in Louisville: The complaint alleged discrimination based on disability in a public accommodations, a violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KRS 344.280) and the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act. Thomas Steptoe, who is deaf, alleged that the law office refused to give him a sign language interpreter for two meetings in 2003 and 2005, respectively. Mr. Steptoe alleged he had to pay for his own interpreter. The investigation found probable cause to believe discrimination occurred. The respondents denied all allegations of violations of the law. The parties agreed to conciliate the matter. The respondent agreed to compensate the complainant in the amount of $130 (his out-of-pocket expense), provide the legal accommodations to people with disabilities when required, undergo civil rights training, and undergo commission monitoring for law compliance.
Robert D’Angelo v. University Physicians Associates Neurological/Orthopedics Clinic, in Louisville: The complaint alleged discrimination based on disability in a public accommodations, a violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KRS 344.280) and the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act. Robert D’Angelo, who has hearing loss, alleged that upon his arrival to the respondent’s clinic, he asked for a sign language interpreter, but staff said he didn’t need one as he could clearly read lips. While in the waiting room, he said, he missed his turn because he couldn’t hear his name being called. He said he would return to the counter to ask why his name hadn’t been called only to learn that it had. This happened three times. Each time, he said, he reminded the staff member that he couldn’t hear, and each time, she gave him an identical form to fill out, telling him to return to his seat until his name would be called again. Mr. D’Angelo said the entire waiting room became involved, with other patients waving and signaling to him when his name was called the fourth time. Meanwhile, for his visit with the doctor, a staff member volunteered a friend’s daughter to interpret, who was not American Sign Language certified as required by law. University Physicians asserted Mr. D’Angelo had originally said he planned to bring an interpreter with him, but that his request for accommodation was fulfilled when the staff member’s friend assisted. KCHR found probable cause to believe discrimination occurred. The parties agreed to conciliate. The respondent agreed to compensate Mr. D’Angelo in the amount of $9,000, undergo civil rights training, and distribute and post civil rights information for clients.
Shameka Simmons v. McDonalds and Linda Marshall v. McDonalds, in Louisville: In two separate complaints, Ms. Simmons and Ms. Marshall alleged McDonalds discriminated against them based on race (black) in employment, a violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KRS 344.040) and the U.S. Civil Rights Act. Both women said they received different treatment than white employees when their employer suspended them for using a racial slur against a white female employee, an allegation that both women denied. McDonalds denied the allegations of violation of the law and asserted it suspended the women because McDonalds has a “no tolerance” policy. KCHR investigation revealed that employees heard a white co-worker use a racial slur toward African Americans, and that the employer did not suspend her. The commission found that there was probable cause to believe discrimination occurred. The parties agreed to conciliate. The respondent agreed to compensate the complainants in the amount of $5,000, each, to remove the disciplinary actions from the files, and to give them letters of apology. The respondent agreed to undergo civil rights compliance training and KCHR compliance monitoring for two years.
The KCHR is the state government agency that enforces The Kentucky Civil Rights Act and the policies of federal civil rights laws. The KCHR has jurisdiction in housing, employment, public accommodations, and financial transactions.
The Kentucky Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, employment, housing, and financial transactions on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, and sex. Discrimination is further prohibited on the basis of familial status in housing, the basis of age (40 or over) in employment, and the basis of a person’s tobacco-smoking status in employment. Complaints not dismissed, settled or conciliated go to administrative hearing where commission decisions have the authority of a court of law.