Dear Amy: My daughter is disabled. She is unable to do much for herself, and needs an aide to help her with everything — including going to the gym. She loves going, but needs help getting onto/out of the equipment, and cleaning the equipment after use.
The aide never uses the equipment; she is there solely to assist my daughter.
The gym, however, wants to charge my daughter an extra fee for bringing “a guest.”
This gym is part of a national chain. Several of their (very young) employees said that they must charge a fee for the aide for “liability reasons.”
I explained that their policy is discriminatory to persons with disabilities, and therefore illegal. My daughter is using an aide as another disabled person might employ a support animal. Their response was, “Well, her aide is not an animal. If your daughter brings a guest, she must pay for it.”
I spoke to a manager a few weeks ago, who told me I would get a call from a regional manager. A month has now gone by and now, due to the coronavirus, the gym is closed. I never received a call back.
When this crisis passes, however, I must deal with what to me, is discrimination.
Should I engage an attorney?
— Furious in Virginia
Dear Furious: I don’t think you need an attorney — yet. When the gym reopens, you should go in, work your way past the younger employees, and educate the manager about your daughter’s rights. Yes, call the regional manager again, discussing the gym’s responsibilities to accommodate her and her aide.
You can contact the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (dredf.org) to research this issue. An email address and phone number are listed on the website.
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I am aware that charging an extra fee for aides has been an issue with some gyms (shame on them). At least one national fitness chain has been pressured by a lawsuit in New York State to drop this “guest” fee, and I assume other national chains have already (or will) follow suit.
Dear Amy: My husband passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last year.
This was a second marriage for both of us, so we both had kids from our previous marriages.
Our wills were done about 18 months prior to my husband’s death.
At the recommendation of the attorney, the wills were set up so that if I died first, he got everything, and if he died first, everything was mine. If we died at the same time, our estate would be split between all of our children.
One stepchild was kind at first — even after reading the will, but then after about a month, wanted my husband’s vehicle. When I refused to give in to the demands, this stepchild turned on me, sending nasty text messages.
I figured it was grief spilling out for the loss of a parent. However, several months later, when I was trying to sort things out and give this stepchild items that were part of their family, again, the response was nasty. This stepchild constantly blew off their father while he was alive, only calling when they wanted or needed something.
The rest of my husband’s family has grown more and more distant as well. I keep trying to reach out to the family with calls, texts and sending cards for birthdays, Christmas, etc.
My kids have told me to leave it alone, but it still nags at me that after all these years, this is what it comes to.
Should I be trying to mend fences or leave it alone?
— Hurt Widow
Dear Hurt: You are already trying to mend fences, but in the absence of a positive or even receptive response, these fences will remain broken.
Over time, you may carve out a renewed friendship with one or more of these family members, but unfortunately some may have actually been waiting for a reason to exit the relationship, and the (legal) disposition of their father’s will has handed them the excuse they’ve been seeking.
Dear Amy: “Ignored” was upset not to receive any follow-up after job interviews.
Managers talk to each other about what talent they are looking for.
A candidate may have talents not suitable for one position, but useful elsewhere in the business.
A follow-up “thank you” about what the interviewee got out of the meeting ALWAYS causes a second look at the resume and the interview notes.
Dear Experienced: Great advice.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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