Macomb County swim club settles disability act dispute

The Detroit News

A Macomb County swim club has reached a settlement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office after allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not tweaking its policy to accommodate a disabled swimmer, and then retaliating against her and relatives, officials announced Friday.

According to the complaint, the Lakers Aquatic Club of Harrison Township and St. Clair Shores suspended the family and the swimmer — who has autism — for requesting a modification so she could continue to participate in its activities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

The club offers training and practice groups for swimmers “of all ages and ability levels,” according to its website.

The Americans With Disabilities Act requires swim clubs and other places of public accommodation to make reasonable modifications in their policies for the disabled. It also prohibits retaliation against those who exercise their rights under the act.

Under the agreement, the swim club is expected to adopt a disability nondiscrimination policy that includes “procedures for promptly handling requests to reasonably modify club policies for individuals with disabilities, along with a statement that the club will not retaliate against individuals who exercise their rights under the ADA,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Friday. The club’s board and staff members also will be trained on their obligations under the act, and the disabled swimmer’s family in the complaint is receiving a refund for the time they were suspended.

“Like all children, children with disabilities enjoy the social and physical benefits of participating in swim clubs and other athletic activities. Clubs should be aware of their obligation under the ADA to make reasonable modifications in their policies to allow children with disabilities to participate, and should ensure that children and their families don’t have to fear retaliation from the club for requesting modifications,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement. “The new policies that the Lakers Aquatic Club has agreed to adopt are a meaningful step forward in ensuring that individuals with disabilities will be able to participate in club activities in the future.”