Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Metropolitan Opera Settles Disability Lawsuit Within an Hour of Filing
Thursday, January 13, 2011
The Metropolitan Opera House settled a federal lawsuit Thursday that charged the theater with discriminating against people with disabilities.
Under the settlement, in the form of a consent decree, it has agreed to install additional wheelchair and companion seating, renovate its restrooms and concession stands, install Braille signs and add more wheelchair-accessible drinking fountains.
Lawyers for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that the settlement requires the Met to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. "The comprehensive measures agreed by the Met ensure that people with disabilities will have an equal opportunity to enjoy the performances offered by one of New York's finest cultural institutions," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
The Attorney filed the suit in the morning and settled less than one hour later.
The opera house, located in Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, also lacked a visual alarm system required by law for the hearing-impaired, the suit said. Additionally, some elevators were not readily accessible to people in wheelchairs and the blind.
“We are pleased that this has been resolved and that the Met is now even more accessible,” said Met spokeswoman Lee Abrahamian.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires all new public theaters to provide equal access to all levels of seating for people with disabilities. It does not specify how this ideal is to be reached. The Met has been a tenant of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center since 1966.
Since the ADA's passage, several New York City landmarks have faced court orders to make appropriate modifications to their buildings including Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden and the Apollo Theater in Harlem.