Settlement | Department of Justice Press Release


1.This matter was initiated by a complaint filed with the United States Department of Justice ("the Department") against Chatham University. After the complaint was filed, Chatham College changed its name and status to Chatham University on or around May 1, 2007. The complainant alleged that university facilities were inaccessible to persons with mobility impairments in violation of title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189 ("the ADA") and the Department's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 36.

2.Following the receipt of the complaint, the Department conducted an investigation to assess compliance with the ADA. The investigation identified numerous alleged violations of title III of the ADA.

3.Neither party hereto admits any liability or wrongdoing to the other. The parties hereto are entering into this Settlement Agreement solely in the interest of reasonable compromise and avoidance of litigation.

4. Accordingly, the United States of America and Chatham University, the parties to this Settlement Agreement (hereafter "Agreement"), have agreed to the following terms and conditions in order to avoid the burdens and expenses of further investigation and possible litigation.


5. The ADA authorizes the Department to investigate alleged violations of title III. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1). The Department is also authorized to commence a civil action in United States district court if the Department is unable to secure voluntary compliance in any case that involves a pattern or practice of discrimination or that raises issues of general public importance, and to seek injunctive relief, monetary damages, and civil penalties. 42 U.S.C. §§ 12188(a)(2) and 12188(b). In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth herein, the Department agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation of this matter or from filing civil suit in this matter.

6.Chatham University, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a place of education operated by a private entity, and its operations affect commerce. It is a place of public accommodation covered by title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(J).

7.The subject of this Agreement is Chatham University's obligation to comply with title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Pt. 36 and Appendix A. In particular, this Agreement requires Chatham University to remove architectural barriers in existing facilities where such removal is readily achievable, 42 U.S.C. § 12182 (b)(2)(A)(iv); to undertake alterations in such a manner that they are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities to the maximum extent feasible, 42 U.S.C. § 12183(a); to ensure that all of its newly constructed buildings are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, 42 U.S.C. § 12183 (a); and to make reasonable modifications to its policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to afford access to services and facilities to individuals with disabilities, 42 U.S.C. § 12182 (b)(2)(A)(ii), consistent with the terms and conditions set forth in this Agreement.

Remedial Action

8.This Agreement incorporates by reference each of the Attachments A - U identified below. Attachments A-T set forth the steps that Chatham University voluntarily agrees to take to achieve compliance with the ADA in those particular buildings and the campus circulation paths as set forth herein. Attachment U is the timetable for completing the remedial work.

A. Braun Hall
B. Falk Hall
C. Coolidge Hall
D. Buhl Science Center
E. Dilworth Hall
F. James Laughlin Music Center
G. Jennie King Mellon Library
H. Woodland Hall
I. Eddy Theater
J. James Campbell Memorial Chapel
K. Mellon Center
L. Anderson Dining Hall
M. Anderson Snack Bar
N. Beatty House
O. Berry Hall
P. Athletic and Fitness Center
Q. Old Gymnasium
R Carriage House
S. Lindsay House
T. Campus Circulation
U. Timetable

9.In terms of priorities, Chatham University will first provide an accessible entrance to the Braun-Falk-Coolidge academic complex by providing access through Falk Hall at both the new quad and the old quad sides of the complex. Chatham University will also provide accessible parking and an accessible path of travel to the Braun-Falk-Coolidge complex in accordance with its proposed plan.

10.Chatham University agrees to prioritize the elimination of barriers in its exterior circulation plan and initiate necessary changes in year one of the plan. Chatham University will obtain and maintain an accessible van for persons who use manual and power wheelchairs for use on campus on a daily basis to address this issue.

11.During the first year and thereafter, Chatham University will hold any public events, including student events, hosted by the President in the newly constructed accessible Boardroom or in another accessible facility, other than the President's House, to ensure that those events are readily accessible to persons who use wheelchairs.

12.Wherever Chatham has installed a visual alarm system in an existing building covered by this Agreement after January 26, 1992, it will endeavor to ensure that visual alarms are installed in restrooms and other general usage areas, including meeting rooms, classrooms, labs, hallways, dormitory rooms, and lobbies when it is readily achievable to do so.

Implementation and Enforcement of the Agreement

13.Chatham University will provide annual progress reports to the Department in October of each year. The reports will describe all modifications completed or begun since the previous deadline and will include sufficient information for the Department to assess the compliance of each modification with the terms of this Agreement and the requirements of the ADA.

14.If at any time Chatham University desires to modify any material portion of this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, it will promptly notify the Department in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances to justify the requested modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written confirmation by the Department to the proposed modification, the proposed modification will not take effect. Any proposed material modification must receive the prior written approval of the Department, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld or delayed.

15.The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that Chatham University has materially failed to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement from the Department for a modification, the Department will so notify Chatham University in writing and will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the Department and Chatham University are unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues within thirty (30) days of the date the Department provides notice to Chatham University, it may institute a civil action in federal district court to enforce the terms of this Agreement and may, in such action, seek any relief available under law.

16.For purposes of the immediately preceding paragraph, it is a violation of this Agreement for Chatham University to fail to comply in a materially timely manner with any of its requirements without obtaining advance written confirmation from the Department for an extension of the relevant time frame imposed by the Agreement.

17.Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.

18.This Agreement shall be binding on Chatham University. In the event that Chatham University seeks to transfer or assign all of or part of its interest in any facility covered by this Agreement, and the successor or assign intends on carrying on the same or similar use of the facility, as a condition of sale, Chatham University shall obtain the written consent of the successor or assign to any obligations remaining under this Agreement for the remaining term of this Agreement.

19.This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or by agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, including its attachments, shall be enforceable. This Agreement does not does not affect Chatham University's continuing responsibility to comply with the ADA but addresses the issues between the Department and Chatham University as they currently exist.

20.Upon execution of this Agreement and for the duration of this Agreement, provided that all of the obligations are timely met, the United States agrees that the changes to facilities implemented by Chatham University render those facilities sufficiently accessible to persons with disabilities in order to resolve the investigation referenced in Paragraph 2 above.

21.This Agreement will remain in effect for a period of five years from the effective date of this Agreement, or until the parties agree that full compliance with this Agreement by Chatham University has been achieved, whichever is later.

22.If any term or provision of this Agreement is determined by any court to be unenforceable, the other terms of this Agreement shall nonetheless remain in full force and effect, provided, however, that if the severance of any such provision materially alters the rights or obligations of the parties, the Department and Chatham University shall engage in good faith negotiations in order to adopt mutually agreeable amendments to this Agreement as may be necessary to restore the parties as closely as possible to the initially agreed upon relative rights and obligations.

23.A copy of this Agreement, including the attachments, or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by Chatham University or the Department on request.

24.The person signing this document for Chatham University represents that she is authorized to bind Chatham University to this Agreement.

25.If after the date this Agreement is executed, Chatham University is unable to perform its obligations due to unforeseen occurrences or acts of God to the extent that it is unsafe, impossible or impractical to perform these obligations, this Agreement shall be suspended as to Chatham University for the duration of such unforeseen occurrence or act of God without any liability or penalty; and this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect as to all other requirements of the Chatham University not affected by such unforeseen occurrences or acts of God.

26.This Agreement is effective as of the date of the last signature below.


For Chatham University:

For the United States:

Grace Chung Becker
Acting Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights


Esther L. Barazzone, Ph.D. 
Chatham University


John L. Wodatch, Chief
Allison J. Nichol, Deputy Chief
Philip L. Breen, Special Litigation Counsel
Sheila K. Delaney, Attorney
Felicia L. Sadler, Attorney
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 307-6309


Date_____________________________ Date        December 9, 2008         

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February 13, 2009