The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton Member, U.S. House of Representatives 815 15th Street, N.W., Suite 100 Washington, D.C.

20005-2201 Dear Congresswoman Norton: This letter is in response to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, XX , concerning her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"). XX , who states that she is "extremely overweight" states that Darrell's Barber Shop refused to provide service to her recently, telling her that she might break the barber chair. Barber shops are subject to the nondiscrimination requirements of title III of the ADA. The ADA defines "disability" to include any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual's major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, or caring for oneself. The definition is a broad one, however, being overweight is generally not considered to be a disability that entitles an individual to protection under the ADA. Some courts have determined that an individual who is morbidly obese -- weighs either more that twice one's optimal weight or more than one hundred pounds over one's optimal weight -- may be entitled to the protections of the ADA, if an individual is substantially limited in a major life activity. A review of the matter raised by XX indicates that there is insufficient information to determine whether she would be considered a person with a disability within the meaning of the ADA. In any event, while we would have authority under title III to investigate this matter, we could take enforcement action only where there is a pattern or practice of discrimination or discrimination involving an issue of general public importance. We have determined that action by the Department is not warranted in this matter.


-2XX has other options, however, including contacting local authorities, disability rights groups, organizations that provide alternative dispute resolution services (such as arbitration or mediation), or contacting a private attorney. For your constituent's convenience, we have enclosed a list of organizations serving your area. These listings come from various sources, and our office cannot guarantee that they are current and accurate. These groups may, however, be able to refer XX to regional or national groups with a focus on the particular matter at issue here. Other contact options include the District of Columbia Bar Association and the Better Business Bureau. You may also wish to inform XX that further information is available through our Americans with Disabilities Act Information Line at (800) 514-0301. I hope this information is useful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely,

Deval L. Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosure


Honorable Eleanor Holmes-Norton Washington, D.C. Representative 815 15th St., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20007 Dear Hon. Holmes-Norton: On January 14, 1995 I placed a call to Darrell's Barber Shop to get an appointment for a haircut and eye brow arch. I spoke to the barber who cut my hair on December 10, 1994 XX and he told me to come in at 1:30 p.m. I arrived approx. 1:45 p.m. and sat while he was cutting a customer's hair. He finished with him approx. 2:05 p.m. at which time a lady who came in after I did sat in XX chair. I was concern due to the fact I was next in line. XX came over to me and informed me that the owner requested that I not get my hair cut in his place because I might break his barber chair. I was not only shocked but hurt and humiliated. I ask XX why was he just telling me now and not on the phone when I called him, he replied by saying he didn't know at that time. He later informed that it was not of his doing it was at the owners request. XX then said he would come to my home after he get off around 5:30 p.m.

and cut my hair and I gave him my address and phone number because my whole schedule was mess up so I asked that he would call me first but I never heard from him. I am wondering why and how did the owner know I was coming if XX didn't inform him plus I believe the owner was in the shop cutting a little boy's hair at the time and did not approach me or XX and why did XX wait until he cut the customer's hair to tell me this????? I am a African-American woman who is extremely overweight but I am still proud of who I am and at this time I am suffering a set back in emotion where I need my hair cut but I am experiencing a phobia of going into a barber shop or any hair establishment to receive services for fear of being humiliated. The most hurting factor of all, this is a BLACK Establishment. I feel I was clearly discriminated, please can you help me???? Your immediate attention is needed in this matter. I can be reached on XX all day every day. Sincerely, XX XX CC: Del Walters-Seven on your side Oprah Winfrey Dept. of Human Rights and Better Business 01-03652