Disability Rights Cases
On April 21, 2023, the United States filed a Statement of Interest in Timothy B. v. Kinsley, a putative class action brought on behalf of children with disabilities in foster care. In their complaint, plaintiffs allege that North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is violating the integration mandate of Title II of the ADA by unnecessarily segregating foster children in psychiatric residential treatment facilities when these children could live in the community with appropriate services, including mental and behavioral health services. DHHS moved to dismiss the complaint. The Statement of Interest responds to DHHS's motion to dismiss by explaining the legal standard for stating a claim under the integration mandate and addressing DHHS's arguments relating to collateral estoppal and standing.
On July 20, 2022, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado entered into a settlement agreement with the St. Vrain Valley School District pursuant to Title II of the ADA. The settlement agreement resolved a complaint that the school district failed to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services for meetings between school personnel and a deaf parent of a student in the school district that were initiated by the school district. The agreement requires the school district to comply with the ADA's effective communication requirements, to have in place a system for providing qualified interpreters, training, reporting, and the payment of compensatory damages.
On July 20, 2022, the United States executed a Settlement Agreement with the Jefferson County, Kentucky Board of Elections, under Title II of the ADA to ensure that its polling places are accessible during elections to individuals with disabilities. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the Jefferson County Board will immediately begin remediation of its voting program. To make its selected polling places accessible, the Jefferson County Board will employ temporary measures, such as portable ramps, signage, and propped-open doors. The Jefferson County Board will also train its poll workers and other elections staff on the requirements of the ADA and how to properly employ temporary measures so that each polling place is accessible during elections.
On July 14, 2022, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois filed a lawsuit under Title III of the ADA against the various ownership organizations of the Chicago Cubs for its failures to design and construct additions and make alterations that are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities as required by the ADA. The complaint alleges violations of the relevant ADA Standards for Accessible Design, including the 2010 Standards, in a wide range of areas throughout the facility, including wheelchair seating, accessible routes, and other features, elements and amenities throughout the Wrigley Field facility.
On June 22, 2022, the United States sent a letter of findings to the State of Maine, notifying the State that it is violating Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act by unnecessarily segregating children with mental health and developmental disabilities. Following an investigation into Maine's behavioral health care system for children, the Department found that Maine fails to provide children with sufficient behavioral health services in their homes and communities. As a result, Maine children may enter institutional settings including psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment facilities, or juvenile detention.
On February 16, 2023, the United States filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The lawsuit alleges that, as a result of the manner in which Florida administers its service systems for children with complex medical needs, children with disabilities are unnecessarily segregated in nursing facilities when they could be served in their family homes or other community-based settings. The lawsuit further alleges that the State’s policies and practices place children with complex medical needs in the community at serious risk of institutionalization in nursing facilities, in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Amended Complaint asks the court to declare that Florida is discriminating against children with complex medical needs in violation of Title II, and to order the State to provide services to such children in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. The United States initiated this lawsuit on July 22, 2013, following the issue of a letter of findings in September 2012. On May 30, 2014, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida denied Florida’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, holding that the Attorney General has authority to sue to enforce Title II of the ADA. The court later dismissed the United States’ claims, concluding that the United States does not have authority to sue to enforce Title II of the ADA. The United States appealed, and on September 17, 2019, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a decision and judgment in favor of the United States. Florida petitioned for rehearing en banc on October 29, 2019. The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition for rehearing en banc on December 22, 2021, and remanded the case to the district court on January 11, 2022. On June 15, 2022, the United States filed an Amended Complaint in this ongoing lawsuit against the State of Florida. On August 12, 2022, the United States filed a brief in opposition to the State of Florida's motion to dismiss, which the Court denied.
On April 25, 2022, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the Town of Clarksville, Indiana for violating Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, alleges that the Town’s police department unlawfully revoked a job offer to a qualified law enforcement officer based on his Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) diagnosis.
On September 15, 2022, the Justice Department entered into a consent decree with the Town of Clarksville, Indiana. Under the decree, Clarksville will revise its policies and procedures for employment-related medical exams as needed to ensure ADA compliance; provide ADA employment training to employees who make personnel decisions; and report to the United States on any ADA employment complaints and on its consent decree compliance. Clarksville will also pay $150,000 in damages to the complainant and provide him with an affidavit stating that the withdrawal of his job offer was unrelated to any action or lack of qualification on his part.
On May 22, 2023, the United States filed an amended complaint against the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania (UJS), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and the Courts of Common Pleas for Blair, Lackawanna, Jefferson, and Northumberland Counties. The United States filed its original complaint on February 24, 2022, against the UJS for violating Title II of the ADA by prohibiting the use of lawfully prescribed medication to treat Opioid Use Disorder by individuals under court supervision. The United States previously notified the UJS that its courts had engaged in discrimination in a letter of findings issued on February 2, 2022. That letter demanded that the UJS address the violations identified by taking corrective actions, including revising relevant policies, appropriately training relevant personnel, and paying compensatory damages to aggrieved individuals. The District Court dismissed the United States' original complaint on April 21, 2023 without prejudice and with leave to amend. Prior to that decision, the United States filed an opposition to the UJS's motion to dismiss on July 1, 2022, and a letter brief addressing two questions raised by the Court on March 23, 2023. The United States filed an opposition to the UJS’s motion to dismiss the amended complaint on September 29, 2023.
On January 10, 2022, the United States filed a Statement of Interest in the case of Doe v. Zucker. The case challenges a New York State regulation limiting admission of individuals with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) into segregated settings called Adult Homes, by alleging that the regulation violates the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The State issued the regulation in conjunction with the United States’ settlement under Title II of the ADA in U.S. v. New York, No. 13-cv-4165 (E.D.N.Y. 2013) and consistent with its Office of Mental Health’s determination that Adult Homes “are not clinically appropriate settings” for individuals with SMI, “nor are they conducive to the rehabilitation or recovery of such persons.” The Statement of Interest explains that the regulation does not violate the Fair Housing Act.
On November 10, 2021, the United States filed a complaint under Title III of the ADA challenging Uber’s practice of charging “wait time” fees to passengers who, because of disability, take longer than two minutes to get in their Uber car. Passengers with disabilities may need additional time to enter a car for various reasons. A passenger may, for example, use a wheelchair or walker that needs to be broken down and stored in the car. Or a passenger who is blind may need additional time to safely walk from the pickup location to the car itself. If you believe you have been a victim of disability discrimination by Uber because you, or someone you were traveling with, were charged wait time fees, please contact the Justice Department at 833-591-0425 (toll-free), 202-305-6786, or send an email to Uber.Fee@usdoj.gov.
On February 4, 2022, the United States filed a response to Uber's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint, arguing that, contrary to Uber’s arguments, Uber is a covered transportation company under Title III of the ADA and that the United States’ Complaint plausibly alleges that Uber violates Title III of the ADA and its implementing regulations by charging discriminatory wait time fees to people with disabilities who, because of disability, need more than two minutes to board an Uber vehicle.
On July 18, 2022, the Department of Justice announced that it entered a multi-million-dollar settlement agreement with Uber Technologies, Inc. to resolve the lawsuit. Under the agreement, Uber will offer millions of dollars in compensation to over 65,000 Uber riders who were charged the discriminatory fees due to a disability. Uber will also waive wait time fees for all Uber riders who certify that they (or someone they frequently travel with) need more time to get in an Uber because of a disability, and will ensure that refunds are easily available for anyone who is charged a wait time fee because of disability.
On November 9, 2021, the United States filed a complaint and the Court entered a consent decree in this suit challenging PATH’s practice of seeking unnecessary medical and disability information from workers in violation of Title I of the ADA and GINA. Under the consent decree, PATH will stop unnecessary medical exams, as well as unnecessary questions about employees’ disabilities, health conditions and family medical history. PATH will also pay damages to two employees, train its staff on the ADA and GINA, and periodically report on its compliance with the agreement.
On October 28, 2021, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of Illinois entered into a Title II of the ADA settlement agreement with the Dunlap Community Unit School District regarding its failure to ensure that its playground areas at a school were readily accessible to and usable by a student with disabilities. The settlement agreement requires the school district to design and construct a new playground at the facility that meets the requirements of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.