August 22, 2001
Lodi, New Jersey 07644
RE: ADA Complaint DJ# xxxxxxxxxx
I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with you on August 21, and I would like to reassure you that disability rights is most certainly not a losing battle and that you are not alone in fighting it. My job would be meaningless if that were the case. After our conversation, I inquired about the questions you asked me and gathered some information for you to look at.
The Air Carrier Act prohibits disability-based discrimination in air travel and requires air carriers to accommodate the needs of passengers with disabilities. The Act was implemented and is enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). I know some of the specifics, but I thought the "Plane Talk Guide" and "Horizons" would help you understand your rights. Also, because DOJ does not handle alleged Air Carrier violations, I located a person over at DOT that you could speak with or file a complaint with. His name is Mike Spollen and he is a consumer aviation protection specialist in the Office of Civil Rights at DOT. His number is 202-366-5945.
I also asked my supervisor about you being carried into restaurants by employees and she said that it is absolutely unacceptable. However, unfortunately because you were unaware that carrying a person is not a reasonable accommodation and, therefore allowed yourself to be carried, monetary compensation would be hard to obtain. If you got injured as a result compensation would be warranted, however you may still file a complaint against the restaurant because it is illegal to carry a person with a disability as an alternative to doing readily achievable barrier removal. Finally, no public accommodation is able to be "grandfathered" or exempt from the ADA, so you can bring a copy of the law into Burger King next time you want a whopper.
Coincidently, after I hung up with you, John Shahdanian, the attorney for North Bergen, called me to say that the Town accepts the Department's Letter of Resolution. What this means is that once the NJ DOT inspects the property at the Municipal Building, the Town Council will pass a resolution to have the accessible spaces added to the parking lot. "Accessible spaces" means that there is an accessible route (curb cuts, ramps, etc...) from the designated spaces to the accessible entrance of the building. The Department is also requiring the Town to publish its 1996 policy concerning the Municipal Building's alternative delivery of services in the local paper and to submit to the Department the Town's plans to build a new accessible municipal building. I hope that you understand that because of your complaint the Town of North Bergen will have a new, completely accessible municipal building in the near future. And also because of your complaint disabled town residents will now have accessible spaces at their disposal. So this battle might have been small but it was won and consequently, you made a difference in your community.
I wish you the best and please feel free to call me anytime at (202) 307-2756. As soon as I receive photos of the completed accessible spaces, I will send you a copy of the resolution and a closing letter. If you have any other complaints, don't be hesitant to call our hotline 1-800-514-0301 or file them via mail. Hope to speak with you soon. Take care!
Disability Rights Section
Plane Talk Guide
A Section of Title II Regs.
Common Questions Concerning Barrier Removal
Title III Complaint Form