City restaurant will appeal ruling on discrimination

October 08, 1999|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Velleggia's Restaurant is appealing a Maryland Commission on Human Relations' Appeals Board ruling that the Little Italy establishment discriminated against the disabled.

The ruling stems from a complaint made to the commission in August 1996 by a patron in a wheelchair who could not use the restaurant's main entrance, which has only steps.

The commission investigated and ruled that Velleggia's was discriminating against people with disabilities by not making a reasonable accommodation for those in wheelchairs. Velleggia's claimed it accommodated the patron by allowing her to use a service entrance.

In June 1998, a judge of the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings rejected Velleggia's claim that the service entrance was a reasonable accommodation and ordered the restaurant to install a front-door lift, an accessible restroom and a lift from the entry level to the main dining level, where the restrooms are located.

Velleggia's appealed the judge's decision, claiming that the state law prohibiting discrimination by public accommodations does not apply to the restaurant. The appeals board ruled in May that the statute applies.

Velleggia's will argue its case before a Baltimore Circuit Court judge Nov. 15.

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