Relman, Dane & Colfax has negotiated a pre-litigation settlement of claims that Monarch Investment & Management Group—a major regional housing management company—failed to provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters to prospective tenants in Colorado, Arizona, and Michigan.
After receiving complaints from current tenants of Monarch properties, the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center, the Southwest Fair Housing Council, and the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan engaged in systemic disability-related testing of Monarch. Their testers contacted leasing agents at Monarch properties and found a consistent pattern of refusal to provide ASL interpreters, suggesting a company-wide policy or practice.
In response to the firm’s demand letter, Monarch agreed to a resolution with the fair housing groups that requires Monarch to adopt a robust ASL interpreter policy, establish an ASL interpreter fund, engage in affirmative marketing to people with disabilities, train its employees on the provision of ASL interpreters, and compensate the organizations for time spent investigating the matter.
Monarch’s ASL interpreter policy requires it to maintain a list of local ASL interpreters at each of its complexes and to provide ASL interpreters at no cost to any deaf or hard of hearing person who requests an interpreter as a reasonable accommodation. The ASL interpreter fund requires that each Monarch property maintains sufficient funds to ensure that an interpreter can be hired whenever necessary. As part of an affirmative marketing commitment, the settlement also requires Monarch to conduct outreach and provide information about available units to organizations that help people with disabilities find housing.
Reed Colfax and Orly May led the firm’s advocacy on this matter.