MAR 2 1993 The Honorable Tony P. Hall U.S. House of Representatives 2264 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C.

20515-3503 Dear Congressman Hall: This letter responds to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, Ronald D. Martin, who asks whether the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires his fitness center to provide membership to an individual who has HIV disease. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or obligations under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist your constituent in understanding the ADA's requirements. However, it does not constitute a legal interpretation or legal advice, and it is not binding on the Department. Gymnasiums, health spas, and other places of recreation are places of public accommodation covered by the ADA. For further discussion of the definition of a public accommodation, see section 36.104 of the enclosed title III regulation at pages 35594 and 35551. As a place of public accommodation, a fitness center may not deny an individual, on the basis of a disability, such as HIV disease, the opportunity to participate in or benefit from its goods, services, or facilities. For further discussion of the definition of a disability, see section 36.104 of the enclosed regulation at pages 35593 and 35548-35550. For more information on the denial of participation from a public accommodation, see section 36.202 of the title III regulation at pages 35595 and 35556-35558. Although a public accommodation is generally barred from excluding people with disabilities, a person may be excluded from the activities of a public accommodation if that person poses a direct threat, or significant risk, to the health and safety of

others that cannot be eliminated by a reasonable modification of cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, McDowney, Bowen, Novich, FOIA Udd:Novich:congress:hall

01-01931 policies, practices, or procedures. However, the determination that an individual poses a direct threat to others may not be based on generalizations or stereotypes about the effects of a particular disability. Such a determination must rely on current medical evidence or the best available objective criteria. For further discussion, see section 36.202 of the title III regulation at pages 35595-35596 and 35560-35561. The current medical evidence does not suggest that HIV can be contracted through casual contact, perspiration, or urine in an exercise room, sauna room, or pool. For this reason, a person with HIV disease should not pose a direct threat to others in a health club, and therefore cannot be denied membership on the basis of that disability. For more information about HIV transmission and prevention, you may call the U.S. Public Health Service Hotline, open 24 hours daily, at (800) 342-AIDS. Mr. Martin expressed concern for the "disastrous effect" he believes admitting a person with HIV would have on his business. He claims that fitness center members and employees will be fearful of sharing facilities with such a person, although he presents no medical foundation for such fears. We suggest that Mr. Martin inform the center's employees and members, through training or dissemination of information, that a person with HIV or AIDS does not pose a serious risk to them in a fitness center setting. In any event, the ADA prohibits the use of unfounded fears as an excuse to exclude people with disabilities. I hope this information is useful to your constituent in understanding the requirements of the ADA. Sincerely,

James P. Turner

Acting Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures (2) Title III Regulation Title III Technical Assistance Manual

01-01932 NEW FITNESS CENTERS, INCORPORATED LIFE EXECUTIVE OFFICES: 7805 N. DIXIE DRIVE DAYTON, OH 45414 (513)890-9800 The Honorable Tony P. Hall Rayburn House Office Building Room 2264 Washington, D.C. 20515 December 23, 1992 Dear Congressman Hall, We are faced with a tremendous problem that at present seems impossible to overcome. I am, and have been, in the fitness business for the past 25 years. The recent passing of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has resulted in our being placed in a very difficult position. We have been approached by a young man who has advised us that he has tested HIV Positive. He wants to purchase a membership in our facility and I am afraid his use and contact with other members will result in the total loss of our business. Please understand that I am not without sympathy for this young man. Fourteen months ago I lost my 31 year old son to cancer,

and I watched him suffer for almost seven years. His passing was the most horrible experience our family will ever face. I tell you this because his weight loss, color, and general appearance was very close to those that have AIDS, and I am very familiar with the reception he received when we would be in public together. People would avoid sitting next to us in restaurants, stare at him as we would walk through stores, etc. The public is simply not ready to accept people who have even a vague look of the AIDS disease. I talked to your office today and asked for any help or advise that could help in this situation. I realize that fitness centers (health spas) are covered under the ADA, but I do not believe that those that considered the bill were aware of the disastrous effects it will have on our business and industry. No member is going to swim in a pool or sit in a whirlpool with a person who is HIV positive. No member is going to sit in a steam room or sauna, or even exercise with a person who looks like he is very ill, or who advises those that ask that he/she is HIV positive. The result, if we are required to sell a membership to this man, will undoubtedly be a boycott of our business, by the public. Staff, who were told of his condition when he came into the facility to submit an application took a shower immediately 01-01933 after he left. I'm told they may all quit. Members, who will have to share the facilities, will quit coming and cancel their memberships. After 25 years of service to the communities, we will undoubtedly lose our business because the public is simply not going to accept this without reacting. I do not know what, if anything, can be done but I find it very difficult to believe that my government has passed a law that is about to make me lose a lifetime of work. That my future, my livelihood, my life investment, and the employment of our employees, is dependent on a person or persons who we never even heard of a week ago. Where is the fairness and common sense? Your office has agreed to send me additional information on the ADA. Lawyers we have talked to have indicated that there is

probably nothing we can do because the law has been written. Your office did not disagree, so it appears my choice is to allow the purchase, and go out of business, or deny the membership and defend myself with the only guarantee that it will probably cost more than we can afford, and we will go out of business. Some choice. (b)(6) XX I realize, Congressman Hall, that you are very busy and certainly other matters are equally important. I am asking for you consideration in this matter, and possibly a ruling by whatever agency that oversees the administration of the ADA. While I know and understand the chances of infection are limited, that is NOT the perception the general public has and the reality is that they will not support my facility by buying memberships, they will not renew their memberships, and we (my Company and employees) will suffer the consequences. The public hysteria is real and alive across the Country, and I believe our entire industry will eventually be lost if common sense does not prevail, and prevail quickly. Sincerely, Ronald D. Martin President

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