THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
GRAND CIRCLE LLC
UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 202-36-200
- This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, with the United States Department of Justice (“United States”) against Grand Circle LLC d/b/a Grand Circle Travel (“GCT”), located at 347 Congress Street in Boston, Massachusetts. The complainant, who had a mobility disability and used a motorized scooter, alleged that, without offering a reason, GCT cancelled the complainant’s reservation, made months in advance, for a two-week trip, although the trip itself was not cancelled and took place with nine additional travelers added shortly before the scheduled departure date.
- The Attorney General of the United States (“Attorney General”) is authorized to enforce title III of the ADA by seeking damages, civil penalties, and full compliance with title III's provisions. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b); 28 C.F.R. § 36.504. The Attorney General may commence a civil action to enforce title III in any situation where the Attorney General believes that a pattern or practice of discrimination exists, or a matter of general public importance is raised. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(B); 28 C.F.R. § 36.502.
- GCT is the owner and operator of a professional travel and tour service. The travel and tour service is a place of public accommodation covered by title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(F); 28 C.F.R. § 36.104. As owner and operator of the travel and tour service, GCT is a public accommodation covered by title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. §12181(7)(F); 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.
- The ADA prohibits public accommodations, including the owners and operators of professional travel services, from discriminating against an individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of its goods, services, facilities, and accommodations. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a); 28 C.F.R. § 36.201.
- The ADA specifically requires public accommodations to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures to permit the use of a wheelchair or other mobility aid by persons with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii); 28 C.F.R. § 36.302(a).
- As a result of its investigation, the United States has determined that GCT denied the complainant equal access to goods and services within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §12182(a), 28 C.F.R. § 36.302. GCT denied, and continues to deny, that it violated the ADA. GCT does not admit liability for any wrongdoing by entering into this agreement.
- The parties to this Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”) are the United States and Grand Circle LLC (collectively “the Parties”). The Parties have determined and agreed that Department of Justice complaint number 202-36-200 can be resolved without litigation pursuant to the terms of this Agreement.
- GCT affirms its commitment to adopt and maintain policies, practices, and procedures as outlined in this Agreement to comply with the requirements of the ADA and to ensure that, consistent with the ADA, individuals with disabilities have an opportunity equal to that of individuals without disabilities to use the facilities, services, and accommodations provided by GCT in the United States. By entering into this Agreement, GCT reserves the right to raise any defense that may be applicable under the law.
- In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, the United States agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or filing a civil lawsuit in this matter regarding the allegations of Department of Justice complaint number 202-36-200, except as provided in the Enforcement section of this Agreement.
- The provisions of paragraphs 10-15 only apply with respect to trips, or those portions of trips, conducted by GCT for travel within the United States, to ground transportation leaving from or returning to the United States, and to GCT operations within the United States. Consistent with the ADA, GCT will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of GCT’s goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations by excluding or providing unequal treatment to persons with disabilities, including but not limited to persons who use a wheelchair or other mobility aid. 42 U.S.C. § 12182.
- To the extent required by the ADA, during its tours, GCT will stow wheelchairs and other mobility devices as needed for customers with disabilities who transfer to a seat during travel, and will not charge a fee or surcharge for stowing wheelchairs or other mobility aids. 28 C.F.R. § 36.301(c).
- GCT will make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to avoid discriminating against persons with disabilities, including persons who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids, within the requirements of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(2)(A)(ii); 28 C.F.R, §§ 36.301(c), 36.302(a).
- Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, and for the term of this Agreement, GCT shall post in conspicuous locations on its website and in its office a notice informing the public that GCT does not discriminate based on disability. The office posting shall be in 24 font print or larger. A notice such as the one attached hereto as Attachment A would meet that requirement. The notice will be refreshed, as necessary, so that it can be easily read by customers.
- Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, GCT will provide its employees and contractors who have contact with the public within the United States on the company’s behalf written or electronic materials on GCT’s obligations under title III of the ADA, including but not limited to the obligation to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures. Furthermore, throughout the term of this Agreement, GCT will provide all newly hired employees and contractors meeting the criteria described above training materials as described above, within their first forty (40) hours of work. GCT will use training materials that are sufficient and effective to ensure compliance with the ADA. GCT will require each employee meeting the criteria described above to affirm that he or she has read the materials and understands GCT’s obligations to comply with the ADA.
- Within sixty (60) days of the effective date of this Agreement and every six months thereafter for the term of this Agreement, GCT will submit a written report to the United States outlining actions relating to compliance with paragraphs 10 through 14 above.
MONETARY RELIEF AND CIVIL PENALTY
- The ADA authorizes the Attorney General to seek a court award of compensatory damages on behalf of individuals aggrieved as the result of violations of title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(B); 28 C.F.R. § 36.504(a)(2).
- GCT will provide payment in this matter by sending a certified check in the amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), via certified mail, to the name and address provided by the United States and will simultaneously send a copy of the check and the accompanying letter to the United States.
- The ADA authorizes the Attorney General to seek a civil penalty for violation of title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(C); 28 C.F.R. § 36.504(a)(3).
- Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, GCT will issue a check or money order in the amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) made payable to the order of the United States Treasury as a civil penalty. GCT will deliver the check or money order to counsel for the United States by common carrier Federal Express, delivery prepaid.
- During the term of this Agreement, GCT will notify the United States if any individual files any lawsuit, civil complaint, or administrative charge, alleging that GCT failed to provide equal access to its goods, services, and activities in the United States for persons with disabilities. Such notification must be provided in writing via certified mail within thirty (30) days of the date that GCT receives notice of the allegation and will include, at a minimum, the nature of the allegation, the name of the individual making the allegation, and a copy of the complaint or charge.
- If at any time GCT desires to modify any portion of this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, GCT will promptly notify the United States in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written Agreement by the United States to the proposed modification, the proposed modification will not take effect. These actions must receive the prior written approval of the United States, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld or delayed.
- The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the United States believes that GCT has failed to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the United States for a modification of the relevant terms, the United States will so notify GCT in writing, and it will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the United States is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues raised within thirty (30) days of the date it provides notice to GCT, it may institute a civil action in federal district court to enforce the terms of this Agreement and/or title III and may, in such action, seek any relief available under law, including a civil penalty for a subsequent violation of the ADA, which the parties agree may be awarded for a violation of this Agreement or a violation of title III subsequent to the execution of this Agreement by GCT.
- Failure by the United States to enforce this entire Agreement or any of its provisions or deadlines shall not be construed as a waiver of the rights of the United States to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
- All materials sent to the United States pursuant to this Agreement shall be sent to the following address by common carrier Federal Express, prepaid delivery: Disability Rights Section, Attn: Susan Crawford, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 1425 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005. The cover letter shall include a subject line referencing DJ# 202-36-200.
- 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 agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, will be enforceable under its provisions.
- This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth above and does not purport to remedy any other existing or potential violations of the ADA or any other federal law.
- This Agreement does not affect the continuing responsibility of GCT to comply with all applicable aspects of title III of the ADA, including but not limited to the obligation to ensure effective communication, the obligation to remove barriers to access when it is readily achievable to do so, and the obligation to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures.
- A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by GCT or the United States on request.
- This Agreement will remain in effect for three (3) years from the effective date of this Agreement.
- This Agreement shall be binding on GCT, its successors in interest, agents, employees, and contractors. GCT has a duty to notify any and all successors in interest of this Agreement and the duties and responsibilities it imposes on GCT. In the event GCT seeks to transfer or assign all or part of its interest in GCT, and the successor or assignee intends on carrying on the same or similar use of the services, as a condition of sale GCT shall obtain the written accession of the successor or assign to any obligations remaining under this Agreement for the remaining term of this Agreement.
- The person signing this document for GCT represents that he is authorized to bind GCT to this Agreement.
- The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
For Grand Circle LLC:
By: /s/ Francis X. Jacoby
FRANCIS X. JACOBY, Vice President
347 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02210
Dated: July 10, 2012
For the United States:
THOMAS E. PEREZ,
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
ALLISON J. NICHOL, Chief
DOV LUTZKER, Special Counsel
BY:/s/ Naomi Milton
NAOMI MILTON, Supervisory Attorney
By:/s/ Susan H. Crawford
SUSAN H. CRAWFORD, Investigator
Disability Rights Section - NYA
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530-0005
(202) 514-7821 (fax)
Dated: September 13, 2012
Grand Circle Travel is committed to providing equal access to persons with disabilities. If you have any concerns, please contact [insert name and phone number of responsible person in Grand Circle Travel management who will address disability-related complaints].
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the United States. For more information about the ADA, call the Department of Justice’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 833-610-1264 (TTY) or visit the ADA Home Page at www.ada.gov.