U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section

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Enforcing the ADA:

A Status Report from the Department of Justice

April - June 2006

This Status Report covers the ADA activities of the Department of Justice during the second quarter (April - June) of 2006. This report, previous status reports, and a wide range of other ADA information, including the consent decrees and formal settlement agreements mentioned in this report, are available through the Department’s ADA Home Page at archive.ada.gov.


ADA Litigation
Formal Settlement Agreements
Other Settlements
Technical Assistance
Other Sources of ADA Information
How to File Complaints


2006, Issue 2


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities. The Department of Justice enforces the ADA's requirements in three areas --

Title I: Employment practices by units of State and local government

Title II: Programs, services, and activities of State and local government

Title III: Public accommodations and commercial facilities


I. Enforcement

Through lawsuits and both formal and informal settlement agreements, the Department has achieved greater access for individuals with disabilities in thousands of cases. Under general rules governing lawsuits brought by the Federal Government, the Department of Justice may not file a lawsuit unless it has first unsuccessfully attempted to settle the dispute through negotiations.

A. Litigation

The Department may file lawsuits in Federal court to enforce the ADA and may obtain court orders including compensatory damages and back pay to remedy discrimination. Under title III the Department may also obtain civil penalties of up to $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for any subsequent violation.

1. New Lawsuits

The Department initiated or intervened in the following lawsuits.

Title II

New Interventions to Defend the Constitutionality of the ADA -- The Department intervened in two additional cases to defend the constitutionality of private title II lawsuits against State agencies. The States argued that they were protected from ADA suits by sovereign immunity. They asserted that Congress lacked authority under the ADA to remove this immunity because the ADA’s protections are broader than the equal protection rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The Department, on the other hand, argued forcefully that Congress had the authority to remove State immunity because the ADA is appropriate legislation under the Constitution to remedy the history of pervasive discrimination against people with disabilities. The cases are --

Spencer v. Earley (Eastern District of Virginia) -- a lawsuit by a Virginia prisoner alleging the State failed to provide accommodations in medical care, housing assignments, access to prison programs, and legal services; and

Prye v. Blunt (Western District of Missouri) -- a lawsuit challenging Missouri law that makes it illegal for a person adjudged incapacitated to vote or to register to vote.

2. Consent Decrees

Some litigation is resolved at the time the suit is filed or afterwards by means of a negotiated consent decree. Consent decrees are monitored and enforced by the Federal court in which they are entered.

Title I

U.S. v. Board of Supervisors of Bern Township, Pennsylvania -- The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania approved a consent decree resolving the Department’s suit against Bern Township. The suit alleged that Bern Township violated title I by refusing to allow the charging party to return to work following a stroke and by failing to discuss or consider a reasonable accommodation. The charging party is a 27-year veteran of the township’s road crew. After a stroke that substantially limited his ability to perform manual tasks, care for himself, talk, and work, he underwent therapy and eventually regained most of his strength and ability to talk. However, citing a provision in its collective bargaining agreement, the township allegedly refused to allow him to return to work without a full release from his physician. Eventually, the township terminated him rather than provide a reasonable accommodation that would have enabled him to return to work. Under the consent decree, Bern Township agreed to pay the charging party $75,000 in back pay and compensatory damages. The county also abandoned its practice of requiring employees returning from sick leave to provide a full release from a doctor and, at the same time, created a reasonable accommodation policy.

TSI Camp Consent Decree Expands Access to Children With Diabetes -- The Department joined a consent decree resolving a lawsuit against Town Sports International, Inc., and its Wellesley, Massachusetts, camp location by parents of a child who uses insulin to control her diabetes. The Department intervened in the lawsuit, E.M. v. Town Sports International, Inc., and TSI Wellesley, Inc., alleging that the camp refused to make reasonable modifications in its policies to provide supervision of the child in her diabetes care. In particular the camp allegedly denied the parents’ request that camp staff supervise their daughter while she tested her blood glucose level using a small automated gauge and while she keyed into her electronic insulin pump the number of carbohydrates marked on each item of food provided by her parents for lunch and snacks. Under the consent order entered in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Town Sports International agreed to evaluate the application of each child with diabetes applying to attend its camps on a case-by-case basis and to make reasonable modifications in policy to permit children with diabetes to have an equal opportunity to attend its camps. These measures may include, but are not limited to, supervising campers while they monitor blood glucose levels, use insulin pumps, syringes, or other diabetes-related medical equipment, and monitoring consumption of food. The defendants also agreed to pay $25,000 in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs and civil penalties of $5,000 to the United States.

U.S. v. Robin Singh Educational Services ( "TestMasters") -- The Department filed and resolved by consent decree a lawsuit against TestMasters, a California provider of test preparation courses, including review classes for the Law School Admissions Test ("LSAT"). The suit alleged that TestMasters refused to provide auxiliary aids and services to a deaf student who registered for its LSAT review course. TestMasters offered to allow the student to bring his own sign language interpreter to the course without charging the student for an extra seat but refused to provide a sign language interpreter at its own expense. The student complained that after he notified TestMasters of its obligations under the ADA, TestMasters canceled his registration for the review class and refunded his money. Under the consent decree, TestMasters agreed to admit the complainant into the LSAT preparatory course of his choosing free of charge and provide sign language interpreters and note takers at TestMasters' expense. It also agreed to establish a procedure for students to request accommodations; train its employees annually on their obligations under the ADA; and pay $20,000 in monetary damages to the complainant and $10,000 to the United States in civil penalties.

3. Amicus Briefs

The Department files briefs in selected ADA cases in which it is not a party in order to guide courts in interpreting the ADA.

Title II

Jones v. Gale -- The Department filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit supporting the right of individuals to bring lawsuits under title II seeking an injunction against State officials in their official capacities. The plaintiffs in Jones v. Gale challenged the validity of a provision in the Nebraska state constitution that prohibits corporate farm ownership, subject to certain exceptions. One such exception permits family farm corporation ownership as long as at least one member of the family lives on the farm or ranch or is “actively engaged in the day to day labor and management of the farm or ranch.” Two of the plaintiffs are individuals with disabilities who claim that this requirement violates title II of the ADA and seek an injunction requiring State officials to change this policy. The Department’s amicus brief argued that the Eighth Circuit should allow the suit to go forward because it has already ruled in another case that title II suits for prospective relief against State officials in their official capacity are not barred by sovereign immunity.

Title III

Miller v. The California Speedway -- The Department filed an amicus brief in Miller v. The California Speedway arguing that the ADA title III regulations require the speedway to provide patrons who use wheelchairs with unobstructed lines of sight over standing spectators in order to see the NASCAR races and other motor sports events held at the racetrack. The Department was invited by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to provide its views concerning the proper interpretation of the ADA regulation requiring that wheelchair users be provided lines of sight comparable to those provided other patrons. The Department has consistently interpreted this language to require public accommodations to provide patrons who use wheelchairs with lines of sight over standing spectators at facilities where spectators can be expected to stand during games or events.

B. Formal Settlement Agreements

The Department sometimes resolves cases without filing a lawsuit by means of formal written settlement agreements.

Title II

Newark Signs 146th Project Civic Access Agreement -- The Department entered into an agreement with Newark, New Jersey, resolving a compliance review of city programs, activities, and services under Project Civic Access, a nationwide effort by the Department of Justice to ensure that cities, counties, towns, and villages throughout the United States comply with the ADA. The goal of Project Civic Access is to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in civic life. To date, 146 Project Civic Access agreements have been signed with 139 communities. Newark agreed to make physical modifications to a wide variety of facilities, including pools and recreation centers, libraries, fire houses, police stations, courts, city hall and other government offices in order to make its activities accessible to people with disabilities. Newark also agreed to designate an ADA coordinator, make its 9-1-1 emergency services accessible, provide information and guidance to its law enforcement officers on ensuring effective communication, make its website accessible, and take specified steps for installing curb ramps to make sidewalks accessible for people with disabilities.

Michigan Department of Human Services, Lansing, Michigan -- The Department reached an agreement with the Michigan Department of Human Services resolving allegations by deaf parents that the agency refused to provide sign language interpreters when they were interviewed by case workers during child abuse and neglect investigations involving their children. Michigan agreed to adopt a new policy for ensuring effective communication, including a requirement that case workers indicate on a revised intake form if a parent needs an interpreter, and provide annual ADA training to all of its 150 managers and 9,000 employees.

Claremont, New Hampshire -- The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire entered an agreement resolving a complaint alleging that the City of Claremont’s newly constructed visitors’ center was not accessible to individuals with mobility impairments. The City agreed to make numerous structural changes to the visitors’ center, including installing an elevator, reconfiguring accessible parking, and making modifications to toilet rooms, exterior routes, and entrances.

Title III

Modern Dental Professional, Indiana, P.C., Indianapolis, Indiana -- The Department entered an agreement with Modern Dental Professional, Indiana, P.C., doing business under the name of Monarch Dental Associates, resolving a complaint by a woman on behalf of her husband who is deaf. The complaint alleged that she requested an interpreter when she called Modern to schedule a dental appointment for her husband who needed complex and extensive dental services. Modern allegedly refused to provide him with a qualified sign language interpreter although one was necessary for effective communication. Modern agreed to adopt a new effective communication policy and effective communication assessment form, post a sign in all of its 10 dental offices informing patients that Modern will provide qualified interpreters when they are necessary for effective communication, and provide mandatory training to all of its employees on the ADA and its new effective communication policy.

Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dayton, Tennessee -- The Department entered an agreement with the owner of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Dayton, Tennessee, resolving a complaint by an individual who is legally blind alleging that restaurant staff told her repeatedly to leave the premises because she was accompanied by a service animal. The restaurant agreed to adopt a policy welcoming service animals, train all current and future employees on this policy, and pay $5,000 in damages to the complainant.

South Florida Baptist Hospital, Plant City, Florida -- The Department entered an agreement with South Florida Baptist Hospital resolving alleged violations of the ADA’s auxiliary aids requirements. An individual who is deaf alleged that the hospital failed to provide a sign language interpreter prior to his surgery and for postsurgical wound-care instructions. The patient’s daughter also alleged that, as a result, she had to perform as a sign language interpreter to facilitate communication between her father and the hospital’s medical personnel. The hospital agreed to establish a policy for providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreters; TTY’s in all public areas of the hospital and in patient rooms; visual alarms; and closed captioning for televisions.

Historic Hilton Village Parlor Restaurant, Newport News, Virginia -- The Department reached a settlement with Historic Hilton Village Parlor Restaurant resolving a complaint that the owner refused to allow the complainant’s service animal in the restaurant. The owner agreed to adopt a nondiscrimination policy regarding service animals, post a sign on the front door of the restaurant welcoming customers with service animals, and distribute a copy of its policy to all employees.

Travel Inn, Vallejo, California -- The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California reached an agreement resolving a complaint alleging that Travel Inn charged a surcharge to a hotel guest accompanied by her service animal. Travel Inn agreed to adopt a written policy allowing access by service animals, distribute a copy of the policy and provide training to all of its employees, prominently display the policy at the hotel registration desk, and pay the complainant $500.

C. Other Settlements

The Department resolves numerous cases without litigation or a formal settlement agreement. In some instances, the public accommodation, commercial facility, or State or local government promptly agrees to take the necessary actions to achieve compliance. In others, extensive negotiations are required. Following are some examples of what has been accomplished through informal settlements.

A woman with a seizure disorder complained that her service dog was denied access to a New Hampshire court. The State issued a memo on the ADA and service animals to all clerks, registers, and court security staff at State courts. Each court facility also posted a revised public notice informing people about accessibility and the availability of accommodations, and the State posted an “Accessibility Options” link on its website, which links to the public notice as well as to the Justice Department’s ADA Home Page.

An inmate complained that an Oregon correctional institution failed to locate and return his prosthetic arm. The facility arranged for the repair and return of the broken prosthesis.

A disability rights advocate in Massachusetts complained that a local doctor’s office was inaccessible to wheelchair users. The doctor’s office installed an accessible ramp to a side entrance, provided signage at the front entrance directing patients to the accessible entrance, and adopted a policy clearly stating its accessibility procedures.

An individual who uses a wheelchair complained that a Nevada casino’s entrance lacked handrails, the landings were too small, and a restaurant inside the casino failed to provide signage indicating the location of the accessible route and entrance. The casino installed handrails, provided adequate space at the landings, and posted signs at two entrances indicating the accessible route and entrance to the restaurant.

An individual with a mobility disability complained that a Pennsylvania restaurant provided insufficient accessible parking, an entrance ramp that was too steep, and no accessible toilet rooms or seating areas for persons with disabilities. The restaurant agreed to provide accessible parking, reconstruct the entrance ramp, and modify their toilet rooms to make them accessible. Restaurant staff will also, on an as-needed basis, move benches at picnic tables to accommodate patrons with disabilities.

An individual with a mobility disability complained that a retail store in Oklahoma did not provide accessible parking spaces designated as reserved for persons with disabilities. The store, part of a national chain, agreed to provide accessible spaces.

An individual with a vision disability who uses a service animal complained of discrimination by a quick service chain restaurant in California. The restaurant issued a letter of apology and a $500 check to the individual, revised its training materials, and posted a sign welcoming customers with service animals.

An individual who uses a wheelchair complained about a lack of accessible features, including toilet rooms and parking spaces, at a fast food chain restaurant in Florida. The restaurant owners converted an existing single-user toilet room into a unisex accessible toilet room and modified the parking lot to include appropriate accessible parking for persons with disabilities.

The U.S. Attorneys obtained informal settlements in the following cases --

District of Arizona -- Two individuals with mobility disabilities complained about the lack of accessible parking at two separate shopping centers. The centers agreed to a variety of changes, including relocating spaces to be on the shortest accessible route to the accessible entrance, creating van accessible parking spaces, and installing access aisles, adding appropriate signage, and installing new ramps that do not extend into the area for accessible parking spaces and access aisles.

An individual with a mobility disability complained about a grocery store’s lack of accessible parking spaces. The grocer agreed to relocate several accessible parking spaces so that they would be on the shortest accessible route to the accessible entrance and add signs with the international symbol of access and “van accessible” to designated van-accessible spaces.

Northern District of Illinois -- An individual with a mobility disability complained that a restaurant refused to keep her scooter inside the facility while she dined. The restaurant agreed to allow wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobility devices used by persons with disabilities to be stored inside or on the outdoor premises of the restaurant when those seasonal outdoor premises are in use.

District of Minnesota -- An individual with a mobility disability complained that a golf course where an office holiday party was being held had no accessible parking for its banquet facilities. The golf course agreed to restripe its parking lot to include the appropriate number of accessible spots.

District of New Hampshire -- A compliance review of a baseball stadium prior to its opening identified a number of accessibility issues, including the lack of field access from the visiting team’s dugout, inaccessible locker rooms and toilet rooms, and improper counter heights. Shortly before the beginning of the 2006 season, a follow-up inspection indicated that all requested changes had been made.

A compliance review of a concert hall identified a number of accessibility problems. The owners of the venue agreed to provide accessible toilet stalls, lavatories, and dispensers in its men’s and women’s toilet rooms and accessible counters for concessions; acquire assistive listening devices; and implement a ticket policy so individuals with disabilities can reserve accessible seats.

II. Mediation

Under a contract with the Department of Justice, The Key Bridge Foundation receives referrals of complaints under titles II and III for mediation by professional mediators who have been trained in the legal requirements of the ADA. An increasing number of people with disabilities and disability rights organizations are specifically requesting the Department to refer their complaints to mediation. More than 400 professional mediators are available nationwide to mediate ADA cases. Over 75 percent of the cases in which mediation has been completed have been successfully resolved. Following are recent examples of results reached through mediation.

III. Technical Assistance

The ADA requires the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to businesses, State and local governments, and individuals with rights or responsibilities under the law. The Department provides education and technical assistance through a variety of means to encourage voluntary compliance. Our activities include providing direct technical assistance and guidance to the public through our ADA Website, ADA Information Line, and ADA Fax on Demand; developing and disseminating technical assistance materials to the public; undertaking outreach initiatives; and coordinating ADA technical assistance government wide.

Pocket Guide, Model Policy, and Video Provide ADA Guidance to Police -- To assist police departments in providing effective communication for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, the Department has produced a pocket guide entitled “Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: ADA Guide for Law Enforcement” and a companion “Model Policy for Law Enforcement on Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.” In addition, the video “Police Response to People with Disabilities” addresses law enforcement situations involving people who have mobility disabilities, mental illnesses, mental retardation, epilepsy or other seizure disorders, speech disabilities, hearing disabilities, or vision disabilities. Intended for use in roll-call training, the videotape is divided into eight segments ranging from approximately five to ten minutes in length. The pocket guide and the model policy can be viewed or downloaded on the ADA Website (www.ada.gov) or ordered through the ADA Information Line. The video may be ordered through the ADA Information Line or viewed in accessible formats on the ADA Website.

ADA Website

The Department's ADA Website on the Internet's World Wide Web provides direct access at anytime to ADA information offered by the Department and by other Federal agencies.

The ADA Home Page (www.ada.gov) is the entry point to the website. It provides direct access to --

The ADA Website also provides information about --

ADA Information Line

The Department of Justice operates a toll-free ADA Information Line to provide information and publications to the public about the requirements of the ADA. Automated service, which allows callers to order publications by mail or fax, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. ADA specialists are available on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and on Thursday from 12:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time). Foreign language service is also available.

To obtain general ADA information, get answers to technical questions, order free ADA materials, or ask about filing a complaint, please call:

800-514-0301 (voice)   833-610-1264 (TTY)

ADA Fax On Demand

The ADA Information Line Fax Delivery Service allows the public to obtain free ADA information by fax 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By calling the number above and following the directions, callers can select from among 34 different ADA technical assistance publications and receive the information, usually within minutes, directly on their fax machines or computer fax/modems. A list of available documents and their code numbers may also be ordered through the ADA Information Line.

<CD and Case Cover for my country video>“My Country” Is Now Available on DVD – “My Country,” the Justice Department’s video about civil rights for people with disabilities, is now available in DVD format. “My Country” is a one-hour documentary narrated by symphony conductor James DePreist, who contracted polio as a young man. The video profiles three people with disabilities whose lives have been shaped by the struggle for equal rights: Kathy Martinez, who is blind; Huey Walker, who is a wheelchair user; and, T.J. Monroe, who has a cognitive disability. Mr. DePreist is the nephew of African American contralto Marian Anderson, who in 1939 was prevented by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) from singing at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Mr. DePreist draws parallels between racial barriers and the barriers faced by people with disabilities. The new DVD version, which has captions, audio description, and an accessible menu, can be ordered through the ADA Information Line or online at the Department’s ADA website (www.ada.gov).

Publications and Documents

Copies of the Department's ADA regulations and Technical Assistance publications can be obtained by calling the ADA Information Line, visiting the ADA Home Page, or writing to the address listed below. All materials are available in standard print as well as largeprint, Braille, audiotape, or computer disk for persons with disabilities.

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section - NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530

Some publications are available in foreign languages. For further information please call the ADA Information Line.

Copies of the legal documents and settlement agreements mentioned in this publication can be obtained by writing to --

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
FOIA/PA Branch, NALC Room 311
Washington, D.C. 20530
Fax: 202-514-6195

Currently, the FOIA/PA Branch maintains approximately 10,000 pages of ADA material. The records are available at a cost of $0.10 per page (first 100 pages free). Please make your requests as specific as possible in order to minimize your costs.

The FOIA/PA Branch also provides online access to ADA materials. A link to search or visit this website is provided from the ADA Home Page.

V. Other Sources of ADA Information

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offers technical assistance to the public concerning the employment provisions of title I of the ADA.

ADA publications
800-669-3362 (voice)
800-800-3302 (TTY)

ADA questions
800-669-4000 (voice)
800-669-6820 (TTY)

The Federal Communications Commission offers technical assistance to the public concerning the communication provisions of title IV of the ADA.

ADA publications and questions
888-225-5322 (voice)
888-835-5322 (TTY)

U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration provides information about the transportation provisions of title II of the ADA.

ADA Assistance Line for regulations and complaints
888-446-4511 (voice/relay)

The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, or Access Board, offers technical assistance to the public on the ADA Accessibility Guidelines.

ADA publications and questions
800-872-2253 (voice)
800-993-2822 (TTY)

The ADA and IT Technical Assistance Centers are funded by the U.S. Department of Education through the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) in ten regions of the country to provide resources and technical assistance on the ADA.

ADA technical assistance
800-949-4232 (voice & TTY)

Project ACTION is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide ADA information and publications on making transportation accessible.

Information on accessible transportation
800-659-6428 (voice/relay)

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a free telephone consulting service funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. It provides information and advice to employers and people with disabilities on reasonable accommodation in the workplace.

Information on workplace accommodation
800-526-7234 (voice & TTY)

VI. How to File Complaints

Title I

Complaints about violations of title I (employment) by units of State and local government or by private employers should be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Call 800-669-4000 (voice) or 800-669-6820 (TTY) to reach the field office in your area.

Titles II and III

Complaints about violations of title II by units of State and local government or violations of title III by public accommodations and commercial facilities should be filed with --

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section - NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530

If you wish your complaint to be considered for referral to the Department's ADA Mediation Program, please mark “Attention: Mediation” on the outside of the envelope.

The Attorney General has determined that publication of this periodical is necessary in the transaction of the public business required by law of the Department of Justice.

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updated October 7. 2008