OCT 9 1995 The Honorable Bob Filner Member, U.S.

House of Representatives 333 F Street, Suite A Chula Vista, California 91910 Dear Congressman Filner: This is in response to your inquiry on behalf of your constituents, XX . We apologize for our delay in responding. XX are complaining about their treatment at the Hometown Buffet Restaurant in Chula Vista and they inquire whether their rights have been violated. XX uses a wheelchair and requires assistance for toileting. At the Hometown Buffet, a problem arose when XX attempted to use the ladies' room with his wife's assistance. It appears that a female customer objected to XX presence in the ladies' room and the assistant manager subsequently advised the XX to wait outside the restroom until it was unoccupied before entering to use the toilet. The XX note, however, that a woman with a child, an "older boy," were apparently allowed to use the ladies' room without incident. The XX further allege that they were told to sit at a table in the restaurant nearest the door, and were advised that this policy was in effect "in case a wheelchair person became ill." Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by places of public accommodation, including restaurants such as the Hometown Buffet. Among other things, the ADA requires public accommodations to make "reasonable modifications" in its policies, practices, and procedures where necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to enjoy the goods and services offered by the public accommodation. Designating restrooms for separate use by men and women is a policy or practice subject to the reasonable modification requirement. It appears from the XX account that the restaurant was willing to modify its general rules and allow cc: Records; Chrono; Wodatch; Magagna; McDowney; FOIA udd\magagna\congress\filner 01-03706​ -2-

XX to use the ladies' room with his wife's assistance so long as the privacy of other patrons was respected. Without knowing more, the restaurant's position appears to be reasonable. More problematic is the restaurant's rule that patrons using wheelchairs sit only near exit doorways. While a public accommodation may impose legitimate safety rules, it cannot make assumptions about the capabilities of individuals with disabilities or provide services in a segregated manner. Under title III, individuals have a private right of action to enforce their rights in federal court. The ADA also authorizes the Department of Justice to investigate complaints against places of public accommodation and to take enforcement action where there is a pattern or practice of discrimination or discrimination involving an issue of general public importance. The Department has undertaken a vigorous enforcement program under the ADA which is described in the attached report. Unfortunately, however, we are not able to investigate every meritorious complaint we receive. We have reviewed the information provided by the XX and determined not to investigate this incident. The XX may wish to pursue their rights in federal court. We have also enclosed a list of agencies in California that may be able to provide some assistance in this manner. I hope this information will be helpful to you in responding to your constituents. Sincerely, Deval L. Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures 01-03707​ August 3, 1995 Rep. Bob Filner 333 F Street Chula Vista CA 91910 Dear Bob: RE: Violation of ADA My husband, XX , is disabled by a stroke, uses a wheelchair,

and can barely stand by himself. He must be pulled up from the chair and steadied when we are in a public bathroom. He cannot go alone. This had never been a problem for us these last 12 years wherever we went in the U.S; that is, until ---On July 24, 1995 at between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m., we were in the womens' room at the Hometown Buffet, 651 Palomar St., Chula Vista, CA 91911. We are regular customers, going to the Hometown Buffets 2 or 3 times a week for at least two years. We are known, and greet the manager, XX , when we see her. The Palomar St. store is heavily patronized by Mexican shoppers, being near the border; almost all the employees are bilingual, Spanish being the first language spoken there. While we were waiting for the wide stall to become vacant, I observed a woman looking angrily at us. She left, and then in came a bus-girl to say "You don't belong in here". I told her to go away. Shortly in came the Asst. Manager, another Mexican, and told us that we could use the room, but that we had to leave and wait outside with an escort from the restaurant until the room was emptied. Then we would be permitted in and all others would be barred from entering until we had left. We had already been waiting for over 10 minutes. There is no blue symbol on the door to designate wheelchair use, and while the customers can use the other three stalls, we cannot. Another woman slipped in before I could maneuver the chair to the opening, the area where we had to wait being at hinges to the door. I noticed one woman had an older boy with her, whom we Americans would send to the mens' room. 01-03708​ Page 2 August 3, 1995 I called the company's main office the next morning (address below) and related my account to XX . The day after that, Mgr. Diane Stoops called me and apologized for the scene and humiliation to my husband. But she did mention she knew of this new restriction. I asked her to let me know what her company was going to do, but she has not yet called me with that information. Another point: One of the hostesses, Erika, told me we had to sit near the exit doorway in case a wheelchair person became ill, and that we should wait at the side of the line of people until a table came

empty near the door. But there are 3 exits, not just one. The second and third time she seated, I refused to wait for a table in the one area she said we had to sit. She was angry, said these were her orders. What are our rights? Americans have not been offended by our use of either mens' or womens' rooms. This appears to be a case of cultural clash - they are imposing their standards from across the border. If my disabled husband cannot come into the bathroom without elaborate procedure, why should their older boys come in and out at will? And it is clear the customers do not connect the wide stall for use by a person in a wheelchair. Sincerely, XX XX XX San Diego, CA 92154 (619) 690-0714 Hometown Corporate Office 9171 Towne Centre Drive San Diego CA (619) 546-9096 Fax Line 546-0179 Attention: XX 01-03709