Group Homes’ Decision To Bar Newlyweds From Cohabiting Upheld
A federal judge has thrown out a discrimination claim from a married couple with intellectual disabilities who were denied the opportunity to live together in the same group home.
Paul Forziano, 31, and Hava Samuels, 36, sued the administrators of their group homes last year alleging disability discrimination after they were told that they could not live together following their April 2013 wedding.
Before marrying, Forziano and Samuels lived in separate group homes in Manorville, N.Y. The couple and their parents claimed that requests for the pair to live together as a married couple were denied by administrators of the group homes who indicated that such an arrangement would be “unprecedented,” “impossible” and “fraught with difficulties.”
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Forziano and Samuels — whose residential and day services are funded through New York’s Medicaid waiver program — argued that denying them the opportunity to live together violated their rights.
U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler, however, dismissed the claim, ruling late last month that Forziano and Samuels did not prove they were discriminated against based on their disabilities.
“Such alleged discrimination is based not on Paul and Hava’s disabilities, but rather on their status as a married couple,” Wexler wrote in his ruling.
Since the suit was filed, Forziano and Samuels were able to find a joint living situation at a group home operated by a different provider where they remain currently. Nonetheless, the families said in court papers that they proceeded with the suit in order to ensure that the couple can continue cohabiting should they need an alternate placement in the future.
Attorneys for Forziano and Samuels have already filed paperwork to appeal the case.