Wow, this one is too close to home. Fort Norfolk Retirement Community, Inc., which operates Harbor’s Edge, a CCRC in Norfolk, Virginia has settled a lawsuit brought against it by the Justice Department that claimed the community was discriminating against residents with disabilities. This lawsuit exposes the unlawful policies perpetrated against our most venerable adult population: the elderly and disabled.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs as they are more commonly known are supposed to offer residents access to the entire residential continuum — from independent housing to assisted living to round-the-clock nursing services — under one "roof" and most charge big fees for this one stop shopping. However, some CCRCs, including Harbor's Edge in Norfolk, Virginia, have been accused of preventing residents, whose worsening health requires them to move to a higher level of care, from accessing their prepaid privileges and amenities available to those in independent housing.
A recent blog posted by ElderLaw Answers, entitled “CCRC Settles Discrimination Lawsuit”, reports that the Justice Department filed a complaint alleging that Harbor’s Edge had violated the Fair Housing Act by instituting a series of policies that limited residents in the assisted living, nursing and memory support units from using their so-called ‘independent living’ dining rooms. It further alleges violations in their policy of restricting certain residents from attending community events with independent living residents. More damning still is the allegation that the CCRC actually retaliated against residents and family members who complained about these policies. Fort Norfolk discriminated against residents who used motorized wheelchairs as well by requiring them to pay a non-refundable fee, obtain liability insurance and get the administration’s permission before the resident could use their motorized wheelchairs.
Under the consent decree, filed May 12, 2015, while Harbor’s Edge does not have to admit liability, it has agreed to pay $350,000 into a settlement fund to compensate residents and family members who were harmed by these policies. In addition, it agrees to a new dining and events policy, a new reasonable accommodation policy, and a new motorized wheelchair policy. This settlement must still be approved by the court.
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Reference: ElderLaw Answers.com (June 2015) “CCRC Settles Discrimination Lawsuit”