What follows is a press release from Stein Vargas – I am so very privileged to be able to share this with all of you! You can make a difference! (See my prior post for more: Amtrak’s Unaccompanied Minor Policy Explicitly Excludes Food Allergic Youth and download the press release here).
PRESS RELEASE – 10/16/14
CONTACT: Mary Vargas, Stein & Vargas, LLP | 240-793-3185 | Mary.Vargas@steinvargas.com
Washington, D.C. – Noah Joseph, a Michigan teenager seeking the opportunity to visit his grandmother by train, filed suit today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”). In his Complaint, Joseph alleges that Amtrak’s policy prohibiting teens with food allergies from train travel discriminates on the basis of disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Joseph, who carries an epinephrine auto injector for his allergy, had been scheduled to travel by train with his older brother from Kalamazoo, Michigan to visit his grandmother in Dearborn, Michigan during his summer break in August of 2014. However, when Joseph’s mother attempted to make reservations, Amtrak refused to book travel for Joseph because of his food allergy regardless of his ability to travel safely.
The Americans with Disabilities Act specifically prohibits Amtrak from categorically excluding individuals with disabilities. Likewise, Section 504 prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance, like Amtrak, from refusing service on the basis of disability. While Amtrak allows teenagers without food allergies to travel by train, Amtrak’s policy of denying travel to teens with food allergies is stated explicitly on the company’s website at www.amtrak.com/unaccompanied-minors-policy.
Joseph hopes that in filing suit he will encourage other teens with disabilities to stand up for their rights and that he will win the right to travel by train to visit his grandmother.
Joseph is represented by Stein & Vargas, LLP. For more information, please contact Mary Vargas at Mary.Vargas@steinvargas.com or at (240)793-3185.
Stein & Vargas, LLP is a civil rights firm committed to the principle that all people have full and equal access to all parts of society.