Atlantis Events, Justice Department reach settlement on Disabilities Act violations

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Atlantis Events, a gay cruise and resort vacation company, must provide a variety of communication services, such as interpreters and assistive listening devices, to traveling guests who are deaf or hard of hearing as part of a settlement with the Justice Department for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

EQUAL ACCESS

“The ADA guarantees people with disabilities equal access to public accommodations, including communications access,” John Gore, acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division, said in a press statement. “People with disabilities who are deaf or hard of hearing must be given the opportunity to fully participate on cruises and at resorts, and enjoy the services and activities a vacation company offers.”

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ATLANTIS VIOLATIONS

The settlement agreement, which was reached Tuesday, resolves complaints from three guests who were planning to take a roundtrip, Halloween-themed gay cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico in October 2012.

Atlantis Events, a gay cruise and resort vacation company, reached a settlement with the Justice Department for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the department said Tuesday. Photo: Atlantis Events.

They didn’t book their trip when they learned Atlantis, based in West Hollywood, didn’t have a policy regarding accessibility for people with disabilities and posted a discriminatory policy on its website that read, “American Sign Language Interpreter will not be provided,” according to the settlement.

The Justice Department opened its investigation in 2013 and said Atlantis cooperated with during the process, the Justice Department said in a press statement.

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JOEL TAYLOR DEATH

Atlantis also has been in the news following the January 22 death of Joel Taylor, 38, of Discovery’s “Storm Chaser” TV series, who was on Atlantis’ Caribbean Cruise, which sailed from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, January 20.

Taylor collapsed on a dance floor and was carried to his cabin. He was found dead in his cabin on the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship Harmony of the Seas, which docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Some reports said Taylor had consumed GHB and died of a drug overdose. An autopsy was performed in San Juan, but the results have not yet been released. Taylor was buried January 29 in his hometown of Elk City, Oklahoma.

AGREEMENT TERMS

Under the agreement with the Justice Department for the ADA violations, Atlantis will ensure that interpreters, transcription services, written exchanges, assistive listening devices, captioning, or other auxiliary aids and services are provided to individuals with hearing disabilities free of charge when necessary for effective communication.

The company also agreed to designate an ADA liaison on every cruise to respond to disability-related requests from passengers.

In addition, Atlantis will pay a civil penalty of $10,000 to the United States and $9,000 in damages to the complainants.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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