August 12, 1999
The Honorable Christopher Shays
Member, U.S. House of Representatives
10 Middle Street
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604-4223
Dear Congressman Shays:
Staff of the Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, have reviewed the correspondence that you forwarded on behalf of your constituent, xxx xxxxxx xxxxxxxx, of Bridgeport, Connecticut (Reference #xxxxxxx). xxx xxxxxxxx wrote to you after encountering barriers to access during a recent visit to Washington, D.C. His letter indicates that both transportation facilities he used and buildings he visited lacked accessible restrooms. Sidewalks were difficult to traverse or lacked curb cuts. He mentions that he has similarly encountered lack of accessibility in his hometown of Bridgeport, both at facilities owned and operated by public as well as private entities.
Facilities in Washington, D.C. and Bridgeport, as in all American cities, are covered by nondiscrimination provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Section 504) may also apply to some of these facilities. The Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division enforces titles I, II, and III of the ADA. Title I protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination in employment by State or local government employers and by private employers, when these employers have 15 or more employees. Title II protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in all of the services, programs, and activities of State and local government entities. Title III protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination by privately owned places of public accommodation. Section 504 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs that receive Federal financial assistance or in programs conducted by the Federal government.
Enforcement of the Federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability requires a fact-specific inquiry by the appropriate officials with oversight and enforcement duties. Coverage of public sidewalks and transportation may come under title II ADA enforcement duties placed with the Department of Transportation. Most of the Federal monuments and museums would be subject to section 504 enforced by the Department of the Interior. Enclosed are copies of appropriate regulations and other descriptive information on the ADA and section 504.
xxx xxxxxxxx may use the enclosed complaint forms to file his allegations with the Department of Justice. We will forward his complaint to the appropriate enforcement agency. He also may file directly with the Department of the Interior or the Department of Transportation, depending on which facility he identifies as having barriers to access for persons with disabilities. Complaints may also comprise any written statement that identifies the discriminating entity, the time and place when the discrimination occurred, and a description of the alleged discriminatory facility, program, or activity with sufficient detail to raise an inference that discrimination has occurred. Appropriate addresses for filing complaints are enclosed.
Please note that the enclosed information describes coverage of residential housing by the Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988 (FHA). A complaint under the FHA would be filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
If your constituent or your staff have questions about titles II or III of the ADA, they may call the Department's ADA information line at 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD). If they have questions about title I of the ADA, they may call the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at 1-800-669-4000 (voice) or 1-800-669-6820 (TDD).
I hope this information will assist you in responding to your constituent. Please do not hesitate to contact the Department if we may be of assistance in other matters.
Bill Lann Lee
Civil Rights Division