| U.S. Department of Justice |
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
Enforcing the ADA
A Press Report from the Department of Justice for the Pacific Region: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Basin
This report covers the ADA activities of the Department of Justice after the ADA first went into effect on January 26, 1992.
Through lawsuits, consent decrees, and formal and informal settlement agreements the Department of Justice has achieved greater access for individuals with disabilities in hundreds of cases. Under general rules governing lawsuits brought by the Federal Government, the Department may not file a lawsuit unless it has first unsuccessfully attempted to settle the dispute through negotiations.
The Department may file lawsuits in Federal court to enforce the ADA and may obtain court orders including compensatory damages and back pay to remedy discrimination. Under title III the Department may also obtain civil penalties of up to $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for any subsequent violation.
Some lawsuits are resolved at the time the suit is filed or afterwards by means of a negotiated consent decree. Consent decrees are monitored and enforced by the Federal court in which they are entered.
The Department files amicus briefs in selected ADA cases in which it is not a party in order to guide courts in interpreting the ADA.
The Department sometimes resolves cases without filing a lawsuit by means of formal and informal agreements.
Lonberg v. Sanborn Theaters, Inc. -- The Department intervened in an ongoing lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California brought by two wheelchair users against the Market Place Cinema in Riverside, California, a facility that offers stadium-style seating. The suit alleges that Sanborn violated title III because it does not provide adequate numbers of wheelchair seating locations, fixed companion seats next to wheelchair seating locations, aisle seats with removable armrests, and wheelchair seating locations with lines of sight comparable to those for other members of the general public.
New Title III Lawsuits Challenge Stadium-style Theater Design --
United States v. AMC Entertainment, Inc. -- The Department filed suit against AMC Entertainment, Inc., and American Multi-Cinema, Inc., in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California for violating the ADA in the design, construction, and operation of stadium-style movie theaters in the AMC chain. The two theaters named in the complaint are the Norwalk Theater in Norwalk, California, and the Promenade 16 Theater in Woodland Hills, California. The newly constructed AMC theaters have two types of seats -- stadium-style seats, which provide comfortable, unobstructed lines of sight to the screen, and traditional seating, which is located on the sloped floor at the front of the theater immediately in front of the screen. Although AMC marketed the theaters as providing stadium-style seating, it placed the wheelchair seating only in the less desirable traditional seating on sloped floors. Wheelchair users are therefore denied a movie viewing experience that is comparable to that afforded to other members of the general public. The complaint also alleges other access violations including the failure to provide companion seating next to wheelchair seats; failure to provide handrails; inadequate space at wheelchair seating locations; and inaccessible concession counters, bathrooms, and telephones.
United States v. Cinemark USA, Inc. -- The Department filed suit against Cinemark USA, Inc., in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio alleging that three of Cinemark's Ohio theaters, as well as its stadium-style seating theaters across the country, violated the ADA by failing both to provide comparable lines of sight to wheelchair users and to make wheelchair seating locations an integral part of the stadium-style seating. Prior to this lawsuit, Cinemark filed suit against the Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas asserting that the Department's actions regarding stadium-style theaters violate the Administrative Procedure Act. The Department believes that suit is without merit and has asked the court to dismiss it.
United States v. Pleasant Travel Service, Inc. and Hawaiian Hotels and Resorts, Inc. -- The Department sued Pleasant Travel Service, Inc., and its subsidiary, Hawaiian Hotels & Resorts, Inc., who own and operate several resort hotels in Hawaii and California. The Department alleged that the hotels failed to remove barriers to access and renovated the hotels in ways that did not comply with the ADA's standards. Under a consent decree, the Royal Lahaina Resort, the Royal Kona Resort, and the Kauai Coconut Beach Resort will provide accessible parking; modify restrooms to make them accessible; provide access to restaurants, swimming pools, and the luau areas; and offer between 12 and 14 accessible guest rooms (including 4-5 with roll-in showers) at each hotel. These rooms will also contain accessibility features for deaf or hard of hearing individuals, including visual alarms and notification devices. Each hotel will also provide from 8 to 11 additional rooms that are accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing and from 8 to 11 TDD's for use by hotel guests. The hotels agreed to provide tactile signs for all guest units and restrooms, modify the hall call buttons and elevator control panels, and provide audible signals both inside and outside elevator cabs. The defendants also agreed to pay a total of $25,000 in compensatory damages to two individuals who use wheelchairs and $25,000 in civil penalties.
Guide Dogs Will No Longer Be Subject to Hawaii Quarantine -- Hawaii agreed to allow precertified, vaccinated guide dogs for persons with vision impairments immediate entrance to the State, no longer requiring them to stay in a 120-day quarantine. The agreement resolved Crowder v. Kitagawa, in which the Department of Justice intervened to challenge the quarantine under the ADA. The quarantine, established as a rabies prevention measure, required all dogs -- including guide dogs -- to stay at the State's quarantine facility. Although travelers with vision impairments could visit their dogs at specified times, they could not remove the dogs from the quarantine facility or otherwise use their dogs to travel in Hawaii during the quarantine period. Under the agreement, Hawaii agreed to establish regulations to permit guide dogs with proper documentation and testing to enter the State immediately upon arrival. Under new regulations adopted by Hawaii, a guide dog owner is required to demonstrate that the dog is free of rabies through documentation of rabies vaccinations and serological testing. The owner must also have a certification of training from a recognized guide dog school.
United States v. Becker C.P.A. Review --In a consent decree resolving the first case filed by the Department of Justice under the ADA, Becker C.P.A. Review, which prepares over 10,000 students annually to take the national certified public accountant exam, agreed to amend its auxiliary aids policy. Becker will no longer limit its offered auxiliary aids to audiotape transcripts prepared for the instructors' use, and will provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters and assistive listening devices, to students with hearing impairments. The company may require a student to attend a consultation meeting, at which time the student would explain his or her individual needs and means of communication. Becker would explain the nature of the class and the proposed auxiliary aid or service. However, Becker may request that the student try its proposed aid or service at a Becker class prior to the session that the student wishes to attend. If the student can articulate, based on experience or skills, why the proposed aid or service will not provide effective communication, the student will not be requested to try out the proposed auxiliary aid or service. Becker also agreed to appoint a national ADA coordinator and to train its staff regarding the policy revision; pay $20,000 to the Department of Justice to be distributed to seven deaf and hearing impaired individuals, all former Becker students; and establish a $25,000 scholarship fund for accounting students who have hearing impairments at California State University.
NCAA Will Revise Eligibility Requirements to Accommodate Student-Athletes with Learning Disabilities -- Under a landmark consent decree, the National Collegiate Athletic Association will modify policies that each year prevented hundreds of students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities from playing college sports and receiving athletic scholarships. The agreement in United States v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, stems from a series of complaints lodged with the Department by student-athletes alleging that the NCAA's initial-eligibility academic requirements discriminate against student-athletes with learning disabilities. The agreement requires the NCAA to modify its policies while at the same time enabling it to maintain its academic standards. The NCAA agreed to --
- revise its rules so that classes designed for students with learning disabilities can be certified as core courses if the classes provide students with the same types of knowledge and skills as other college-bound students;
- allow students with learning disabilities who are unable to meet the initial eligibility rules when they graduate from high school to earn a fourth year of athletic eligibility if they complete a substantial percentage of their degree work and maintain good grades;
- direct its committees that evaluate applications filed by students who do not meet the requirements but are seeking a waiver to consider a broad range of factors in reviewing the student's high school preparation and performance when deciding whether to grant a waiver and not to use a minimum qualifying test score on the SAT or ACT;
- include experts on learning disabilities on the committees that evaluate waiver applications.
In addition, the consent decree requires the NCAA to undertake efforts designed to prevent further violations of the ADA, including designating one or more employees as an ADA compliance coordinator to serve as a resource to NCAA staff and as a liaison with students with learning disabilities; providing training to its staff regarding the new policies; and publicizing the terms of the agreement to high schools, students, parents, and member colleges and universities. The NCAA also agreed to pay a total of $35,000 in damages to four student-athletes.
Days Inns Will Promote Accessibility at New Hotels Nationwide -- The world's largest hotel chain agreed to undertake a nationwide initiative designed to make hundreds of its new hotels across the country more accessible to persons with disabilities. The consent decree, filed in U.S. District Court in Pikeville, Kentucky, resolves five lawsuits filed by the Department of Justice. The suits alleged that franchiser Days Inns of America, Inc, and its parent company, Cendant Corporation (formerly HFS, Inc), because of their significant role in the design and construction of new Days Inns hotels, violated the ADA by allowing franchisees to construct hotels that failed to comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Under the agreement, Days Inns will --
- require new hotels to certify that they are in compliance with the ADA Standards before they open for business as Days Inns;
- pay for an independent survey program designed to identify ADA problems at newly constructed hotels;
- establish a $4.75 million revolving fund to provide interest-free loans to franchisees of newly constructed hotels to finance repairs and renovations required for ADA compliance; and
- pay $50,000 to the United States.
The agreement ends four years of litigation that followed an 18-month investigation of newly constructed Days Inn hotels across the country. The investigation revealed that similar accessibility problems existed throughout the chain, including, for example, insufficient accessible parking, inaccessible entrances and walkways at the facilities; inadequate space for persons who use wheelchairs to maneuver in guestrooms and bathrooms; insufficient visual alarm systems for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing; inadequate signage for persons who are blind or have low vision; inaccessible routes throughout the hotels; and guestroom and bathroom doors that were not wide enough to allow wheelchairs to pass inside. The owners, contractors and all but one architect for each of the five hotels named in the lawsuits had earlier entered into consent decrees or agreements with the Department. This consent decree resolves the remaining claims against Days Inns of America and Cendant Corporation.
United States v. Ellerbe Becket, Inc. -- The Ellerbe Becket architectural firm agreed that all of the new sports stadiums and arenas that it designs in the future will be designed to provide wheelchair seating locations with a line of sight over standing spectators. The agreement specifically applies to any facility with more than four fixed seats and in which spectators can be expected to stand for all or any part of an event . The consent decree resolves the Department's lawsuit alleging that Ellerbe had violated the ADA by repeatedly designing new sports stadiums and arenas that violated the ADA new construction requirement for comparable lines of sight for wheelchair seating locations. Ellerbe argued that the court should dismiss the case because architects are not covered by title III of the ADA and because lines of sight over standing spectators are not required. The court disagreed with both of these arguments and allowed the case to continue.
Arnold v. United Artists Theatre Circuit, Inc. -- The Department entered into a formal agreement and consent decree with United Artists Theatre Circuit, Inc. (UATC), one of the nation's largest exhibitors of motion pictures, that will ensure compliance with the ADA's barrier removal and new construction provisions at more than 400 theater locations with approximately 2,300 screens throughout the United States. The consent decree, which was filed simultaneously with the Department's intervention in Arnold v. United Artists Theatre Circuit, Inc., will completely resolve that suit. The Arnold case was a private class action suit brought on behalf of California residents with mobility impairments who encountered barriers at UATC theaters. The agreement requires UATC to take the following actions in almost all of its existing theaters throughout the country within the next five years --
- provide parking spaces that comply in design and number with the requirements of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (the Standards);
- provide an accessible path of travel from parking spaces to an accessible theater entrance;
- provide in each auditorium the number of wheelchair seating spaces required in comparably-sized, newly-constructed auditoriums, with companion seating;
- ensure that one percent of the total number of seats is aisle seats with folding or removable aisle-side armrests;
- provide at least two dispersed wheelchair seating locations at a distance of from one-third to two-thirds of the way back from the screen in auditoriums with more than 300 seats; and
- modify existing restrooms to make them accessible or construct unisex accessible restrooms that comply with the Standards.
UATC will also be required to bring all theaters constructed for first occupancy after January 26, 1993, into full compliance with the Standards by no later than June 30, 1997, and to ensure that future construction complies with the Standards.
United States v. Harcourt Brace Legal and Professional Publications, Inc. -- A consent decree resolved this suit against the auxiliary aids policies of Harcourt Brace Legal and Professional Publications regarding Bar/Bri, the nation's largest preparatory course for individuals studying for bar examinations. The Department's complaint alleged that the Bar/Bri course failed to provide appropriate auxiliary aids to students with vision and hearing impairments. Under the consent decree, filed simultaneously with the complaint, Harcourt Brace agreed to establish a detailed set of procedures for identifying and providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices, and Brailled materials, to students with disabilities. In addition, Harcourt Brace has agreed to pay $28,000 in compensatory relief. This award is divided among two students, the California Department of Rehabilitation which provided the interpreter for one of the students, and the individual who converted the course materials into Braille for the other student. Harcourt Brace also agreed to pay $25,000 in civil penalties, adopt and implement a formal written policy ensuring that auxiliary aids and services are promptly and properly provided, educate Bar/Bri staff regarding students with disabilities, and include information regarding the availability of auxiliary aids and services for students with disabilities in its advertising materials.
Padilla v. Ryan -- The Department filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in support of a class action lawsuit challenging policies and practices at the Santa Clara County jail that discriminate against persons who are deaf or hard of hearing by denying them access to sign language interpreters, TTY's, and other auxiliary aids and services. Because of the absence of auxiliary aids, detainees have allegedly been forced to endure delays of several days in release from custody prior to being convicted of any crime; and inmates have been forced into isolation and denied equal access to programs and services, such as medical treatment, rehabilitation, and communication with family members. The Department's brief in support of the plaintiffs motion for a preliminary injunction argued that the plaintiffs are qualified individuals with disabilities, that the ADA requires the provision of auxiliary aids to ensure effective communication, and that the provision of auxiliary aids in this case would not compromise safety or effective prison administration or otherwise result in undue financial and administrative burdens.
Botosan v. McNally Realty Inc. -- The ADA does not require a plaintiff to notify State agencies or follow any other administrative procedures before filing a lawsuit under title III, according to an amicus brief filed by the Department in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The plaintiff in Botosan is an individual with paraplegia who alleged that defendants violated the ADA by failing to provide accessible parking spaces at their real estate office in Imperial Beach, California.
Long v. Coast Resorts, Inc. -- The Department filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in support of two individuals who use wheelchairs and a disability rights organization who are challenging inaccessible features of a newly constructed Las Vegas, Nevada hotel and casino. Although the district court found that the bathroom doorways at the 800-room hotel and casino complex were too narrow, it refused to order any relief to correct the violation, because it thought the "minimal" inconvenience to people with disabilities was outweighed by the expense of widening the doorways. The Department argued in its brief on appeal that the inaccessible doorways would seriously impede access by persons with disabilities and that the ADA does not allow courts to ignore new construction violations. The Department also argued that the district court was mistaken in ruling that four slot change kiosks comply with the ADA. The brief emphasized that two of the kiosks do not have accessible service counters and that the work area in each kiosk has a four-inch elevation that prevents employees who use wheelchairs from approaching, entering, or exiting the area.
Orr v. KinderCare -- The Department participated as amicus curiae in this suit against a major daycare provider challenging the exclusion of a nine-year old boy because of his disabilities. KinderCare had decided to terminate Jeremy Orr, a child who has developmental disabilities, low vision, and a mild seizure disorder, from its after-school program. He needs assistance in eating, walking, diapering, and interacting with other persons. After six months of serving Jeremy in its two-year-old room, KinderCare argued that it could not meet Jeremy's individualized needs in "a group care setting." KinderCare also refused to modify its procedures to accommodate an aide for Jeremy proposed by his parents. This aide would be provided by a third party with full State support. The Department argued that Jeremy's presence had not fundamentally altered KinderCare's program and that accommodating an aide for Jeremy in the future also would not fundamentally alter KinderCare's program. The court entered a preliminary injunction that ordered KinderCare to retain Jeremy pending trial. Under a consent decree resolving the lawsuit, KinderCare will retain Jeremy Orr in its after-school program and allow him to be accompanied by an aide funded by the State of California. He will be allowed to attend the program in an age-appropriate classroom when the aide is present, and the two-year olds room when the aide is not present. KinderCare agreed to mandatory staff training and periodic conferences with Jeremy's parents regarding how best to include him in program activities. Without admitting liability, KinderCare agreed to pay damages and attorney's fees to the Orrs.
Orange County, California -- The Department reached an agreement with Orange County, California, resolving an employment charge originally filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The charging party worked as an eligibility technician for the county. After returning from an extended medical leave of absence, she was reassigned to a clerical job because of medical restrictions placed on her. She then was selected for a vacancy in her former position as eligibility technician. After her appointment to that job, the county asked her to submit to a medical examination to determine whether her past medical restrictions were still in effect. Her psychiatrist lifted the restrictions and reported that she could fulfill the duties of an eligibility technician. However, the county declined to accept the psychiatrist's conclusions, forcing her to return to her clerical job. The county denied liability but agreed to pay the complainant $10,000 for monetary losses. She did not wish to return to her former position and therefore did not seek reinstatement.
Arizona Departments of Revenue and Administration -- The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona entered into an agreement with the Arizona Department of Revenue and the Arizona Department of Administration to resolve an employment discrimination complaint involving the State's refusal to hire an individual with diabetes as a data librarian. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found reasonable cause to believe that the State had violated title I by conducting an improper medical examination before issuing a conditional offer of employment. The EEOC also found that, based on the results of that examination, the State concluded illegally that, because of her diabetes, the complainant would not be able safely to work alone as would be required for one-half hour each day of every third week. Under the negotiated agreement, the Arizona Departments of Revenue and Administration will conform their employment practices and policies to the requirements of the ADA, train all supervisory and managerial personnel on disability discrimination, and pay the complainant $80,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages.
Arizona and North Carolina Agree Not To Discriminate Against School Bus Drivers With Diabetes -- School bus drivers in Arizona and North Carolina will no longer face discrimination in hiring or risk being fired just because they use insulin to control diabetes. Two out-of-court agreements with the Department of Justice settled complaints that school districts in Arizona and North Carolina fired diabetic school bus drivers with accident-free driving records. Under Arizona and North Carolina law, persons with diabetes who use insulin were barred from operating a school bus. The Arizona Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles applied their laws without regard to whether a person's condition actually prevented them from safely operating a vehicle. Under both agreements, the States will stop the practice of automatically barring individuals from operating a school bus who use insulin to control their diabetes. North Carolina will enact new regulations. Consistent with the ADA's requirements, the States will rigorously assess people with diabetes who use insulin on an individual basis to see if the person's diabetes can be controlled and monitored. Drivers who are deemed eligible to operate a school bus also will be subject to stringent self-monitoring and other requirements designed to ensure continued safety. Under the agreements, the Arizona complainant will receive $10,000 and the North Carolina complainant $9,000. For several years, the two individuals had operated school buses for local school districts safely and without any health-related incidents. They ultimately were terminated by their school districts because of their use of insulin. The Yuma, Arizona, Elementary School District No. 1 has agreed to reinstate one person to her school bus driver position.
Sacramento, California -- The California Employment Development Department agreed to offer a job as an employment program representative and to pay $60,000 in compensatory damages to a disabled veteran who allegedly was denied a job because of his physical impairments. The job application form required the applicant to indicate whether he had been treated for certain medical conditions. The agency also requested and received information from the applicant's doctor about his physical impairments and treatment for depression. In addition to the relief provided to the complainant, the State agency also agreed that it will not discriminate in violation of the ADA on the basis of disability, including mental impairments such as depression, or physical impairments, against a qualified individual with a disability, and it will not make medical inquiries of an applicant prior to extending a conditional offer of employment.
Riverside County, California -- The Department reached an agreement with Riverside County, California, barring use of a medical monitoring form for new employees with certain medical conditions, including a housekeeper who had elevated liver function tests and a duplicating machine operator who was taking medication for depression. By signing the form, the employee agreed to have the condition treated on an on-going basis by a physician, follow the physician's recommendations, and undergo monitoring of the condition by the county through periodic re-checks by the county's medical provider. The form also required the employee to acknowledge that his or her medical condition must remain under control or he or she would face possible suspension or termination. Riverside County had required at least 43 employees with various medical conditions to complete the form, but there was no evidence that it had taken disciplinary action, rescinded hiring, or taken any other adverse action against any individual who failed to comply with the conditions listed on the form or who refused to sign the form. Under the agreement, Riverside County agreed to stop using all versions of the form and to destroy all copies of the form appearing in medical or other employee files.
Access to 9-1-1 Systems -- U.S. Attorney's offices entered written agreements to ensure direct, equally effective access for TDD users to 9-1-1 emergency systems in the following localities --
Los Angeles, California
The agreements require each 9-1-1 center to have TDD capability at each call-taker position, to query every "silent call" with a TDD, and to thoroughly train each call-taker in handling TDD calls.
California Agreement to Improve Statewide 9-1-1 Access -- The California Department of General Services has agreed to reimburse 475 local 9-1-1 centers for their purchase of TDD equipment and related services in order to ensure direct local access to 9-1-1 services throughout the State of California. The existing Statewide TDD translation service relied upon until now by many local 9-1-1 centers, which inappropriately handled 9-1-1 calls, will be discontinued in July 1997. The Department of General Services collects 9-1-1 surcharges from phone customers and is one of only a few States that provides Statewide funding for local 9-1-1 equipment. Under its agreement with the Department of Justice, the Department of General Services also instructed each of the centers on how to ensure that people using TDD's have effective access to emergency services.
Auxiliary Aids and Services -- The Department reached separate agreements with police departments in Montgomery County, Maryland, Glendale, Arizona, Roswell, New Mexico, and Rochester, New York, requiring them to develop policies and procedures to ensure that appropriate auxiliary aids and services are provided in their interactions with individuals who have hearing impairments. The departments agreed to establish procedures to ensure that deaf individuals who use sign language would have interpreters in circumstances where interpreters are necessary for effective communication -- for example, when criminal suspects are being advised of their constitutional rights or being questioned by police. The police departments agreed to train police officers on the appropriate use of interpreter services and to ensure that interpreters are sufficiently qualified.
Thousand Oaks, California -- The Department entered an agreement with the City of Thousand Oaks, California, resolving a complaint alleging that the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, was built in violation of the ADA's requirements for new construction. Under the agreement, Thousand Oaks has both added and relocated accessible seating spaces in the Civic Arts Plaza, ensured that the accessible route from the seating area to the stage is equivalent to the route provided to the general public, constructed an accessible entrance into the control room, provided a public text telephone, installed accessible signage at accessible parking spaces and unisex toilet rooms, installed required visual alarms throughout the Civic Arts Plaza, and provided accessible benches in the dressing rooms. Thousand Oaks will also renovate the shower stalls and the toilet rooms to make them accessible and add accessible signage identifying exits.
Mendocino County, California -- The Department completed an agreement with Mendocino County, California, resolving a complaint alleging that the county courthouse is inaccessible to individuals with mobility impairments. The complaint alleged that the mezzanine levels of the building where several courtrooms are located are accessible only by stairs, that there are no accessible bathrooms in the building, and that no accessible parking spaces are provided outside the courthouse. The agreement requires the county to undertake modifications, including working with the City of Ukiah to install a van-accessible parking space and ensure that the path of travel into the building is accessible, installing accessible entrances that are at least 32-inches wide at County offices throughout the courthouse, undertaking additional improvements in the accessible courtroom to make it more accessible, installing accessible signage throughout the building, making improvements to the elevator to make it more accessible, and modifying at least one set of restrooms in the facility to comply fully with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The county will also adopt written policies stating that court proceedings taking place in inaccessible courtrooms will be relocated to an accessible courtroom upon the request of a court participant, juror, or spectator with a disability.
Oakland, California -- The Oakland Police Department agreed to take the necessary steps to ensure that members of the public who are deaf or hard of hearing can communicate effectively with police officers during law enforcement situations ranging from traffic stops to arrests to criminal interrogations. The agreement resolves three complaints involving three separate incidents between 1994 and 1997 where the Oakland Police allegedly failed to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to arrestees with hearing impairments. In one instance, an individual was denied pencil and paper with which to communicate with jail staff. In another, a deaf individual who had borrowed an automobile from a friend was unable to make a telephone call for approximately seven hours (because no operable TDD was available) to clear up charges that he had stolen the automobile. Under the agreement, the police department will adopt policies for providing effective communication and publish and publicize them as official operating procedures. It will purchase at least one more TDD, train jail personnel on how to operate TDD's, and initiate a testing program to ensure the TDD's are functioning properly. The Oakland Police will also ensure that one of the jail cells that provides a television set has closed captioning capability. All of the approximately 700 officers who deal with the public will receive extensive ADA training on how to implement the ADA's effective communication requirements in typical police situations. This instruction will be provided during annual police academy training that all officers are required to attend.
San Bernardino, California -- The San Bernardino City Council reached an agreement with the Department in which it agreed to provide the auxiliary aids necessary to ensure effective communication at city council meetings with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have impaired vision. The city agreed to provide, when appropriate, sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices, and written materials in alternative formats. The city also agreed to provide ADA training to its employees and to include a notice on its agenda to inform members of the public of its policy with regard to effective communications and how to obtain auxiliary aids.
California Law Accommodates Glucose Testing by Day Care Centers -- A 1997 California law exempts blood glucose testing from the category of "incidental medical procedures" that cannot be done outside the presence of a licensed health care professional. The legislation followed a finding by the Department of Justice that California was violating title II by maintaining a licensing program that made it illegal for day care providers to perform blood glucose finger-stick tests for people with diabetes in their care, unless the tests were done under the direct supervision of a licensed nurse or physician. Such tests are required under the ADA as a reasonable policy modification necessary to integrate children with diabetes into mainstream day care centers. This restriction came to the Department's attention after it reached an agreement with KinderCare Learning Centers under which KinderCare agreed to do finger-stick tests for children with diabetes. KinderCare was told by the California Department of Social Services that if it complied with the agreement, its child care licenses would be revoked.
Colusa County, California -- The Department entered into an agreement with the Sheriff's Department of Colusa County, California, to resolve a complaint alleging that the facility was inaccessible to a wheelchair user who had come to visit an inmate in the county jail. Under the agreement the county will make the necessary modifications to provide accessible parking, an accessible path of travel to the front entrance of the building, an accessible front entrance, and accessible restrooms and water fountains.
Bell Gardens, California -- The Bell Gardens Police Department agreed to provide effective communication with members of the public who are deaf or hard of hearing, including arrestees. This agreement resolved a complaint alleging that the police department failed to provide a sign language interpreter as requested by an individual who was arrested. The police department adopted a policy of providing auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreters, in situations where necessary to afford effective communication, and will notify the public and provide training for court personnel about its policies on effective communication.
Santa Clara County, California -- The Santa Clara County Superior Court agreed to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including assistive listening systems, when necessary to ensure effective communication with hard of hearing individuals. The agreement settled a complaint that the court lacked adequate policies and procedures for providing auxiliary aids and services to hard of hearing citizens in court activities, including jury service. The court will ensure that all assistive listening equipment is adequately maintained, that policies for providing effective communication are disseminated to all court staff, and that employees are trained in carrying out the policies.
Bashas', Phoenix, Arizona -- The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona resolved a complaint that the restrooms in a Phoenix grocery were inaccessible because they were up a flight of stairs. Bashas' agreed to construct an accessible restroom on the bottom floor of the store.
MGM Grand Hotel, Casino, and Theme Park to Become Fully Accessible to People with Disabilities -- People with disabilities will now be able to fully enjoy the entertainment and attractions at the MGM Grand Hotel, Casino and Theme Park in Las Vegas, Nevada, the world's largest hotel and casino complex, under an agreement reached with the Department of Justice. MGM Grand will --
- increase the number of accessible guest rooms for individuals with disabilities by adding 36 rooms during the course of renovations, including rooms with roll-in showers, bringing the total number of fully accessible guest rooms to 112;
- increase the number of accessible guest rooms for individuals with hearing impairments by adding 15 rooms with visual alarms during the course of renovations, bringing the total number of fully accessible rooms for individuals with hearing impairments to 46, and making available 15 additional kits containing visual notification devices, TDD's, and door knockers;
- make restrooms throughout the facility fully accessible to persons with disabilities by adding stalls for people who use crutches or walkers, adding grab bars, and relocating doors;
- ensure that the casinos are fully accessible to persons with disabilities by adding more lowered gaming tables and accessible service counters and improving access to the high roller gaming areas;
- install visual alarms throughout the facility for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing;
- improve access in the Grand and Hollywood Theaters and in the MGM Grand Garden, which host major sporting events and concerts, by adding accessible wheelchair and companion seating locations, lowering ticket and box office counters, and providing assistive listening devices for people who are hard-of-hearing;
- provide full access for people with disabilities at restaurants and retail establishments within the facility by adding handrails in entrances, lowering cashier counters, and providing accessible dressing rooms and adequate knee space in dining booths;
- make pool and spa areas fully accessible to people with disabilities; and
- pay $165,000 in compensation to the three complainants.
Ramada Maingate/Saga Inn, Anaheim, California -- The Ramada Maingate/Saga Inn agreed to establish procedures for guaranteeing accessible room reservations and for accommodating customers with disabilities. The agreement resolves a complaint filed on behalf of an individual who is mobility impaired, alleging that the hotel failed to provide a promised wheelchair accessible room. In addition, the hotel will post a policy statement indicating that all persons with disabilities are welcome in the hotel and train its staff about their ADA obligations.
Arizona Shuttle Service, Tucson, Arizona --The Arizona Shuttle Service, which operates a fixed-route shuttle service between Tucson and Phoenix International Airport, agreed to operate and maintain wheelchair-accessible vans and to permit all types of service animals, not only "seeing eye" dogs, to ride the vans. The agreement reached by the Disability Rights Section, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona, two private plaintiffs, and Arizona Shuttle resolves two private lawsuits and two complaints filed with the Department of Justice. The two complaints investigated by the Department alleged that the Arizona Shuttle Service violated the ADA by refusing to transport an individual with her service animal because the animal was not a "seeing eye dog" and by purchasing two new vans that were not accessible to people with disabilities, including people who use wheelchairs. Just before entering the agreement, Arizona Shuttle purchased two accessible vans for its fleet. The agreement requires the company to maintain its accessible vans and to post and implement a service animal policy and a written reservations policy that meet the nondiscrimination requirements of the ADA. The agreement requires Arizona Shuttle to pay $10,000 in compensatory damages to the individual who was denied access because of her service animal. Another wheelchair user and a disability group in Arizona who jointly sued the company for having inaccessible buses and vans will each receive $2,500 in damages. Arizona Shuttle will also pay $5,000 in civil penalties to the United States.
Eye Institute of Orange County, Irvine, California -- The Eye Institute of Orange County signed an agreement to treat patients with disabilities on a nondiscriminatory basis. The agreement resolves a complaint against the Institute, a private ophthalmological practice in southern California, alleging that a 15-year old girl was denied an appointment because she has Down's Syndrome. Under the agreement, the Eye Institute will adopt a written nondiscrimination policy, post the policy in the lobbies of its offices and distribute it to all employees, require all employees to attend mandatory training on the policy within 15 days, and pay $5,000 in compensatory damages to the girl.
Your Man Tours, Inc., Los Angeles, California -- The Department reached an agreement with Your Man Tours, Inc. (YMT), a company that organizes vacation tours, to resolve two complaints alleging that the company charged extra to make vacation plans for people with disabilities. The complainants, one of whom uses a wheelchair and the other a walker, requested YMT to accommodate their mobility impairments in making reservations for a vacation trip to Hawaii. Both canceled their plans rather than pay the extra charges which they contend were demanded by YMT. The agreement prohibits YMT from charging extra to make reservations for accessible accommodations. Under the agreement, YMT provided a free trip to Hawaii to one complainant, paid the other complainant $1648.90 (the value of the trip), and made a $2,000 donation to Mobility International, USA, a nonprofit organization that distributes information about travel and educational opportunities for persons with disabilities.
Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California; Lauderdale Beach Hotel, Fort Lauderdale, Florida -- The Department signed agreements with hotels in California and Florida resolving complaints concerning their alleged failure to provide auxiliary aids and services to deaf and hard of hearing guests, including visual alarms to alert them to smoke and fire, visual notification devices to alert them of incoming telephone calls and door knocks or bells, TDD's, television decoders, and phone amplifiers. The hotels agreed to obtain all of the auxiliary aids and services, make a good faith effort to make arrangements to rent or share additional TDD's, if needed, upon request, and honor the request within two hours of receiving it. The complainant in each case received $5,000 in compensatory damages.
American Red Cross, San Francisco, California -- The Department settled a complaint against the San Francisco Bay Area Red Cross by a deaf individual who was unable to take a first aid and CPR course, because the Red Cross denied her request for a sign language interpreter. Under the agreement, the Red Cross agreed to provide auxiliary aids and services, such as sign language interpreters, when necessary for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing; consult promptly with individuals with disabilities regarding their requests and needs; offer the complainant a free course with an interpreter present; and, distribute pamphlets, posters and other information to the public concerning the new policy.
Subway, Chandler, Arizona -- The owners of a Subway store in Chandler, Arizona, located near Phoenix, signed an agreement in which they will pay $500 to a customer who was asked to leave the store because of the presence of his hearing assistance dog. The owners also agreed to develop and post a written policy of nondiscrimination against persons with disabilities, including those accompanied by service animals, and train present and future staff to ensure that persons with disabilities are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner. The complaint arose when other customers of the Subway store complained to the manager about the dog's presence. The manager believed that, after speaking with a representative of the county health department, he was only required to admit "seeing eye" dogs into the restaurant.
Volume Services, San Francisco, California -- Volume Services, which operates concessions and souvenir facilities at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, has agreed to modify all of its service counters in order to make them accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs, and to make other structural changes, such as adding skirting to protruding objects that would otherwise present a hazard to some individuals with visual impairments. Volume Services has further agreed to implement policies ensuring full and equal access to individuals with disabilities and to implement an employee training program for providing nondiscriminatory service. Under the agreement, Volume Services will also pay $60,000 to a group of complainants and $20,000 to the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund for attorneys and expert fees. In addition, Volume Services will pay $15,000 to the United States.
Motorcycle Mechanics Institute, Phoenix, Arizona -- A Phoenix trade school agreed to pay $16,000 to an individual with a vision impairment who had been denied admission to the program. The school also agreed to change its policy of requiring persons with disabilities to submit additional documentation regarding their career goals and proof of employability.
Stadium Agreement Reached in San Francisco -- Accessibility will be vastly improved at 3Com Park (formerly Candlestick Park) in San Francisco, California as a result of an agreement with the City of San Francisco, which owns and operates the stadium; the San Francisco Forty-Niners professional football team; and the San Francisco Giants professional baseball team. The agreement calls for a variety of modifications, including installation of a new elevator for persons with disabilities; renovations of restrooms for accessibility to persons using wheelchairs; addition of approximately 150 new wheelchair seats and companion seats; installation of assistive listening systems for patrons who are hard of hearing; accessible parking for persons with disabilities; a lift to the dugout; accessible drinking fountains and concession stands; accessible routes to the sky boxes; training for staff and contractors on disability issues and communication skills; and improved ticket policies, advertising, and community outreach to persons with disabilities. A total of $110,000 in damages were paid to individuals who complained of past discrimination, and $30,000 in civil penalties were paid to the United States.
Disney Agrees to Interpreters, Captioning, Assistive Listening Systems -- The Department and Walt Disney World reached a comprehensive agreement resolving complaints that Disney had failed to provide auxiliary aids for effective communication for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Under the agreement Disney will --
- provide oral and sign language interpreters at numerous specified attractions by March 1, 1997, at Walt Disney World in Florida, and by December 31, 1997, at Disneyland in California, upon notice two weeks in advance of an individual's planned visit;
- make captioning systems available without reservation at the entrance to specified rides or shows no later than December 31, 1997, at both Disney resorts;
- provide transcripts to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing at attractions and allow these individuals an opportunity to ride an attraction promptly a second time in order to better understand the written text;
- schedule interpreters at specified shows, performances, and rides on a rotating basis so that guests can attend all interpreted attractions in one day at one of the three parks at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California;
- provide closed captioning on video monitors in queues for attractions and other arcades throughout the parks;
- make interpreter schedules available from Walt Disney World and Disneyland Guest Services;
- provide assistive listening systems and written transcripts for most attractions for hard of hearing guests who desire them;
- train employees to improve services for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing;
- advertise its services for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Greyhound to Improve Bus Service to Passengers with Disabilities -- An agreement between the Department and Greyhound Lines Inc., will improve the availability and quality of accessible bus service for persons with disabilities. The agreement resolves a wide range of complaints including the denial of passage or boarding assistance to persons with mobility or vision impairments, injuries to passengers while being physically carried on and off buses, and verbal harassment. It requires Greyhound to pay more than $17,500 in damages, which includes individual payments to 14 complainants ranging from $500 to $4,000. Current Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations permit carrying, but require Greyhound to provide lift-equipped bus service on 48 hours' notice beginning in October 2001. The agreement will minimize the need for carrying passengers with disabilities by phasing in accessible bus service in three stages, beginning two years before lift-equipped service is required by the DOT rules. Under the agreement, Greyhound will --
- (through March 31, 2000 only) provide, with 48 hours' notice through its ADA Hotline, a lift-equipped bus or assistive device on scheduled departures to and from locations where these buses are operated (generally along major routes serving a large proportion of Greyhound passengers) or where assistive devices can be made available to passengers who request such accommodations;
- on 48 hours' notice, make reasonable efforts to provide an accessible bus between any of the approximately 2,600 points served by Greyhound; and,
- (beginning no later than April 1, 2000) guarantee accessible buses between any points served by Greyhound, on 48 hours' notice, except in a limited set of "excusable circumstances" defined in the agreement.
The agreement also requires Greyhound to --
- provide training to employees assisting any person with a disability;
- establish an internal dispute resolution procedure for addressing complaints by persons with disabilities within 90 days;
- inform individuals with disabilities of their rights under the ADA and the agreement;
- convene a meeting of a specially created advisory committee of representatives from organizations advocating the rights of persons with disabilities to advise Greyhound on its training programs and policies by September 30, 1999; and,
- continue systematically removing barriers to access in Greyhound facilities.
The Department of Justice has created a plain language guide for bus passengers -- available through the ADA Information Line, the ADA Home Page, and ADA Fax on Demand (document #3400) -- that explains the requirements of the Greyhound agreement and the DOT regulations.
Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza Hotels will Improve Access and Modify Reservation Policies -- The Department signed two agreements with Bass Hotels & Resorts (BHR) and 20 separate agreements with individual hotel franchise owners to resolve ADA violations throughout BHR's Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotel chains. The agreement with BHR on reservations and rental policies requires that each hotel in the two chains must --
- guarantee reservations for accessible rooms as they guarantee other types of reservations;
- hold all accessible rooms for persons with disabilities until 6 p.m., at which time they can release all but two (one in each of the two standard categories of single and double bed rooms), which must be held until all other rooms of that type are sold; and
- compile a list of accessibility features to be kept at the hotel's front desk and made available to anyone who calls the hotel or the central reservations system.
The second agreement requires BHR to make modifications in three hotels it currently owns or manages and to pay $75,000 to the Key Bridge Foundation to establish a mediation program for ADA complaints. BHR will also pay a total of approximately $75,000 to the United States and the complainants to resolve all outstanding issues.
The Department also reached 20 agreements with Holiday Inn and Crown Plaza franchisees resolving accessibility complaints involving hotels at the following locations:
Montgomery East, Alabama
Phoenix City, Arizona
SunSpree Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona
Financial District, San Francisco, California
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, California
Huntington Beach, California
Downtown Denver, Colorado
Powers Ferry, Atlanta, Georgia
Overland Park, Kansas
Astrodome, Houston, Texas
Those agreements require a wide range of modifications, including removal of barriers to access, provision of auxiliary aids, and staff training.
Waiting Lines will be Accessible at Wendy's Restaurants -- Nearly 1,700 Wendy's restaurants will become more accessible to their customers with disabilities under an agreement reached with the Department of Justice and nine State Attorneys General. The out-of-court agreement stems from a joint nationwide investigation of the restaurant chain by the Department of Justice and nine States -- the first time the Department has teamed up with States to launch an investigation under the ADA. Under the agreement, Wendy's International, Inc. will either widen the queues in which customers wait to order food, or remove the railings or other dividers marking the queues to accommodate customers who use wheelchairs. Prior to this agreement, customers who use wheelchairs had to cut to the front of the line or stand outside the customer queue and wait to be recognized by a restaurant employee because the queues were too narrow. The agreement resolves a two-year investigation into access issues at Wendy's restaurants by the Department of Justice and State Attorneys General from Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The joint task force visited newly constructed and older Wendy's restaurants in 12 States, which include the nine States, as well as Louisiana, Ohio, and Washington.
Under the agreement, the Ohio-based chain has agreed to --
- either remove or widen the customer queues at all of its nearly 1,700 corporate-owned or leased restaurants in 39 States;
- modify its prototype architectural plans for future restaurants, both corporate-owned and franchised, to incorporate accessible customer queue designs;
- notify all franchisees of the agreement and their obligations under the ADA, and provide them with technical assistance;
- allow the task force to conduct spot checks of restaurants covered by the agreement to ensure that customer queues have been removed or widened;
- remove various other barriers found at the 17 newly constructed restaurants visited by members of the joint task force;
- pay the joint task force $50,000; and
- pay a total of $12,000 in damages to five individuals or entities who filed complaints with the Department of Justice or State Attorney Generals offices, regarding accessibility at Wendy's.
Marriott International, Inc., Bethesda, Maryland -- The Department entered into an agreement with Marriott International, Inc., establishing policies for reserving accessible rooms at all of its Courtyard by Marriott facilities throughout the country. This agreement serves as a standard for the hotel industry nationwide. Marriott will ensure that accessible rooms will not be reserved for nondisabled persons unless all other rooms in a facility have been reserved and only accessible rooms are left, and that the central reservations office will be able to guarantee accessible rooms for any Courtyard hotel at a customer's request, provided such rooms are available. It also requires that Marriott's Guest Relations Office maintain a list of accessible rooms at all Courtyard hotels and keep the list updated, and that employees at all Courtyard facilities receive training on the obligations of places of lodging under the ADA. Additionally, Marriott will undertake substantial barrier removal in the parking area, two public restrooms, and guest rooms of a Memphis, Tennessee, Courtyard by Marriott facility that was the subject of a specific complaint, and will purchase equipment to make five additional rooms at that facility accessible to persons with hearing impairments. The complainant alleged that although he and his wife, who has a disability and uses a wheelchair, were guaranteed an accessible room at the facility, they were assigned to an inaccessible room, and staff at the facility did not offer them adequate assistance with finding suitable accommodations elsewhere. Marriott will pay the complainants $10,000 in compensatory damages and will pay civil penalties of $7,500.
Avis Inc., Garden City, New York -- Through a negotiated agreement, the Department resolved its investigation of Avis, Inc., the country's second largest car rental establishment. Under the agreement, Avis has committed to providing rental vehicles equipped with hand controls to persons with disabilities at all corporately-owned locations. Hand controls will be available on eight hours notice in all major airport locations and on 24 or 48 hours notice at other facilities, depending on certain factors. Avis agreed to provide training at all corporate locations. Avis will urge all existing licensees to adopt the same measures, and will require all new franchisees and those renewing their contracts to follow the agreement. The agreement also references two previously-resolved investigations, where Avis has made substantial changes to its rental policies to accommodate persons with disabilities. When renting to persons who do not use credit cards, Avis will allow persons who are unemployed due to a disability to substitute verifiable disability-related income in lieu of a verifiable employment history. Also, persons who cannot drive due to a disability will now be able to rent cars in their own name and maintain financial responsibility for a car rental when they are accompanied by a licensed driver.
Avis Rent A Car will Improve Access to Airport Shuttle Systems for People with Disabilities -- The nation's second largest rental car company agreed to provide accessible airport shuttle buses at all of its airport locations nationwide. The agreement between Avis Rent A Car, Inc., and the Department of Justice resolved a complaint filed by a traveler who uses a wheelchair alleging that Avis violated the ADA by not providing access to the shuttle system that operates between the terminal at the Detroit Metro Airport and its offsite rental car facilities. During negotiations, Avis agreed to expand the agreement to cover all of its airport shuttle systems nationwide. Avis will ensure that --
- each of the 36 shuttle systems at airport locations that it owns and operates will have at least one accessible vehicle by December 2000; some locations will have several accessible vehicles;
- all newly acquired large shuttle vehicles will be accessible;
- accessible curbside service, under which rented vehicles are delivered directly to the terminal where the customer with a disability is waiting, will be provided at all locations;
- barriers to access will be identified and removed at each airport location.
When the Department began its investigation, Avis had only six lift-equipped vehicles out of 286 in its fleet. When Avis is in full compliance with the agreement, it will have at least 153 accessible vehicles.
Dollar, Inc., Washington, D.C. -- Dollar, Inc., one of the largest car rental establishments in the country, agreed to modify its rental policies to permit people with disabilities to rent cars when accompanied by licensed drivers. Prior to the agreement, Dollar required the licensed driver to be the financially responsible party. This policy made it impossible for people with disabilities who cannot drive (for example, people with visual impairments) to rent cars, even when they had a licensed driver accompanying them. Under the agreement, an individual with a disability who is the financially responsible party may rent a car using his or her own credit card, while a driver accompanying the individual presents his or her own driver's license. All Dollar licensees renewing existing contracts or entering into new contracts subsequent to the agreement will be required to adopt the new policy.
Safeway Agreement has Nationwide Impact -- The Department entered a major agreement with Safeway Stores, Inc., affecting all 835 Safeway stores in the United States. The agreement requires Safeway to create at least one 32-inch opening between the security bollards or cart corrals used at the entrances to many of its stores so that customers who use wheelchairs can have greater access. Safeway will also launch a nationwide compliance plan where it will survey all of its 835 stores, determine the areas throughout the stores that do not meet ADA requirements, and take steps to ensure compliance. The agreement resolved a complaint filed with the Department regarding a Safeway store in Washington, D.C. Other parties to the agreement include two individuals with disabilities and the Disability Rights Council of Washington, D.C., which sued the chain under the ADA, as well as the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, which had received several complaints about Safeway's California stores.
Smith Barney, Inc., Washington, D.C. -- The Department reached a formal agreement with Smith Barney, a nationwide financial planning services company, as a result of which Smith Barney will provide financial statements and correspondence in large print to its customers with vision impairments. (Smith Barney already provides documents in Braille.) The enlarged print documents will be provided free of charge, upon request. Smith Barney will also pay a person who filed a complaint with the Department $1,500. Notice of the service will be sent to 55,000 new customers, and over 40,000 potential customers, each month.
KinderCare Learning Centers, Inc., Columbus, Ohio -- The Department reached an agreement with KinderCare, the nation's largest proprietary child care provider, that will allow children with diabetes to enroll at any of KinderCare's 1100 centers nationwide. The agreement, which serves as a model for the child care industry throughout the country, requires KinderCare to perform finger-stick tests at the request of parents in order to monitor the blood sugar level of their children and to take appropriate action. It does not require that KinderCare administer insulin injections. KinderCare also agreed to engage in a three-year ADA training initiative for its employees and to appoint a disability services coordinator. The agreement resolves a Department of Justice investigation and a private lawsuit brought by the American Diabetes Association, its Ohio affiliate, and the next friend of Jesi Stuthard. Jesi had been denied the opportunity to attend a KinderCare Learning Center near Columbus, Ohio, because of his diabetes and KinderCare's refusal to perform glucose monitoring.
Nationwide Child Care Agreement Accommodates Children with Food Allergies, Diabetes, other Disabilities -- The Department reached an agreement with La Petite Academy, Inc., the nation's second largest child care provider, protecting the rights of children with severe food allergies and other disabilities, including diabetes and cerebral palsy. La Petite Academy, Inc., which operates over 750 day care centers nationwide, has agreed to administer epinephrine, a form of adrenaline, to those children who experience life-threatening allergic reactions to certain foods, such as peanuts, or bee stings. If authorized by parents and a physician, La Petite staff will use a small pen-like device (sold as Epipen, Jr., or under other names) that carries a premeasured dose of epinephrine to alleviate a reaction. The staff person simply removes a safety cap and presses the pen against the thigh of the child, discharging the epinephrine. The agreement awards damages in the amount of $55,000 to five children who were allegedly affected by La Petite's lack of reasonable modifications for children with disabilities. Three were children whose food allergies prevented them from enrollment without the availability of the Epipen, Jr. Two were children with cerebral palsy, who were denied reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures that would enable them to continue in child care. La Petite also adopted a policy for administering finger-stick tests to measure the blood glucose levels of children with diabetes.
Educational Testing Service, New York, New York -- The Educational Testing Service and the College Entrance Examination Board agreed to schedule more dates in 1994 for more than 20,000 students with disabilities wishing to take the new version of the Scholastic Assessment Test. Under the original testing schedule, students with disabilities requiring accommodations were offered only one date to take the updated version, as opposed to their peers who had several opportunities to take the test. The agreement also allowed approximately 2,600 students with disabilities who took the old version of the test the chance to cancel their scores and retake the new exam.
Carmike Cinemas Inc., Washington, D.C. -- The Carmike Cinema chain, which operates 510 theaters with over 2700 screens in 36 States, has agreed to initiate a nationwide process of barrier removal. The agreement resolves a complaint alleging that certain theaters operated by Carmike in Des Moines, Iowa, were not accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs. Carmike agreed to remove barriers at the Des Moines theaters, including barriers related to inaccessible entrances, restrooms, ticket windows, lobby areas, concessions, wheelchair seating, and parking. Carmike also agreed to conduct a nationwide review of all of its theaters to identify barriers to access. It developed a twenty-page survey that will be completed by theater managers at each theater, and the results will guide the company's barrier-removal program.
Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloons, Wichita, Kansas -- Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloons, a nationwide restaurant chain operating 105 restaurants in 29 States, agreed to bring 97 new or altered facilities into full compliance with the ADA within 45 days, and comply with the ADA in the alteration and new construction of its restaurants in the future. This agreement was the first resulting from a compliance review, a process by which the Department, in the absence of a complaint, reviews architectural plans for new construction and alterations to assess compliance. Initial review of architectural plans revealed violations of the ADA, and site visits confirmed Lone Star's failure to provide accessible routes from parking areas, and other accessible features including seating, restrooms, and parking. Under the terms of the agreement, Lone Star is contributing $25,000 to four disability advocacy groups, in amounts of $6,250 each.
Movie Theater Chain Agrees to Nationwide Agreement -- Cineplex Odeon Corporation, one of the nation's largest operators of motion picture theaters, agreed to increase significantly the number of receivers it provides for assistive listening systems in its more than 800 motion picture theater auditoriums throughout the United States. Prior to this model agreement, Cineplex provided four receivers for each auditorium, regardless of its size. The company will now provide receivers at the rate of two percent of seats in all auditoriums that opened prior to January 26, 1993. It will also provide receivers at a rate of four percent of seats in all auditoriums where audio-amplification systems have been replaced since January 26, 1992, in order to comply with ADA provisions governing alterations to existing places of public accommodation. (The company already provides receivers at the rate of four percent of seats in new theaters, in strict compliance with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.) Cineplex Odeon also agreed to provide one neck loop per screen in theaters with six or fewer screens and one for every two screens in theaters with more than six screens. Neck loops facilitate the use of assistive listening systems by people who use hearing aids. Additionally, the company will monitor use of assistive listening systems at all theaters and purchase additional receivers where necessary to meet additional demand, even at theaters where receivers will be provided at the rate of four percent of seats.
The agreement also contains strong provisions requiring maintenance, advertisement, and promotion of the use of assistive listening systems. Cineplex will ensure that employees at all theaters know where receivers are located and how they work in order to respond to customer questions, test systems periodically, and ensure prompt repair of equipment. The company will promote the use of assistive listening systems at its theaters by developing a brochure to be distributed to audiologists in all of the areas of the country where it has theaters, by advertising the availability of systems in newspapers and on pre-recorded telephone announcements for every theater, and, beginning January 1, 1997, by displaying an on-screen announcement prior to every feature film shown at a Cineplex Odeon theater indicating that assistive listening systems are available.
A county-operated cemetery in Nevada agreed to make its grounds accessible to individuals with disabilities by modifying the walk-in gate, leveling and paving the entrance area to the walk-in gate to provide a clear turning space for wheelchair users, and placing a sign with a contact phone number at the front drive-in gate indicating that an alternative drive-in gate is unlocked and accessible.
A California municipal police department adopted a policy ensuring effective communication in situations involving persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
An Arizona court agreed to implement a policy providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities, including persons with visual impairments.
A large hotel and resort complex in Honolulu, Hawaii, removed architectural barriers in the lobby, lobby restroom, restaurant, and pool area, developed a written policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, and paid the complainant $500 in damages. It will create 12 accessible guests rooms, seven with roll-in showers, and 12 additional rooms that are accessible to individuals with visual and hearing impairments.
In California, a group of wheelchair users complained that a county building was inaccessible because it did not have a ramp. The county agreed to install a temporary ramp at the front entrance of the building while plans are being finalized to renovate the existing building and to work with the complainants regarding the upcoming renovations to insure compliance with the ADA. Once construction begins, the county will relocate the offices in that building to another accessible building during the renovations.
In California, a deaf couple complained that a doctor refused to provide a sign language interpreter for office visits and required the couple to pay for their own interpreter. The doctor reimbursed the sign language interpreter for two previous office visits, posted a notice about the ADA and auxiliary aids in the waiting room, and agreed to improve his staff's understanding of the ADA's requirements.
In California, a mother complained that her son, who is a wheelchair user, was denied access to the bumper cars at an amusement park. The respondent apologized for the incident, eliminated the unnecessary eligibility criteria which barred the complainant from that ride, and agreed to conduct an employee training program that would emphasize compliance with the ADA. The respondent also gave complimentary passes to an amusement park of the complainant's choice.
In Arizona, a wheelchair user complained that a restaurant was not accessible. The owner agreed to install a new door and threshold that comply with the ADA and modify two booths to be accessible to wheelchair users. The owner also apologized to the complainant for any inconvenience and discourtesy she may have experienced.
The parents of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder complained that a Nevada daycare center stopped providing services to their daughter because of her disability. The owner agreed to comply with the ADA and provide training for the staff. The owner also agreed to develop resources and expertise for resolving issues that may arise while providing services to a child with a disability.
Child Care Center Ordered to Admit Child with Asthma -- The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Alvarez v. Fountainhead, Inc., ordered a California child care center to modify its "no medications" policy and enroll a child who has asthma and uses an inhaler. It also ordered the center to provide a one-hour training session for its staff on the nature of asthma and the supervision of children who use albuterol inhalers. Fountainhead Child Care Center prohibits teachers from assisting in the administration of any medication to children enrolled in its program and requires parents to either come to the facility to administer any necessary medication, forgo medication while the child is at preschool, or not enroll the child. The four-year-old child in this case was able to use the inhaler himself, but required monitoring for signs of wheezing and supervision while he administered the inhaler. The Department argued in an amicus brief in support of the child that the minimal monitoring and supervision required in this case would be reasonable and not fundamentally different from the responsibilities that all child-care operators have for the safety and well-being of their students.
Plaintiffs May File Transit Lawsuit without First Complaining to DOT -- The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled in Beauchamp v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, as urged in the Department's amicus brief, that plaintiffs do not have to exhaust administrative remedies with the U.S. Department of Transportation before filing a title II lawsuit. The plaintiffs are a group of individuals who use wheelchairs and other mobility-assistance devices who have filed suit against the Los Angeles MTA and a private contractor, Ryder/ATE, for failing to comply with the ADA's mass transit requirements. Among the claims raised by the plaintiffs is a continuous pattern of malfunctioning wheelchair lifts and securement equipment on MTA buses as well as driver refusals to pick up persons with disabilities and a failure to train the drivers in the proper use of the lifts and the securement equipment.
Supreme Court Says ADA Clearly Protects Prison Inmates -- In a unanimous opinion the Supreme Court ruled in Pennsylvania Department of Corrections v. Yeskey that a motivational boot camp operated for selected inmates by the Pennsylvania State prison system is subject to the requirements of title II of the ADA. Prisoners who successfully complete the boot camp program are entitled to a significant reduction in their sentence. The Court agreed with the Department of Justice in ruling that the broad language of title II clearly covers prisons and provides no basis for distinguishing programs, services, or activities of prisons from those provided by other public entities. It rejected the State's arguments that the law is ambiguous and that prisoners cannot be "qualified individuals with disabilities" because they are not in prison voluntarily.
Supreme Court Declares that Unjustified Isolation Is Discrimination -- In Olmstead v. L.C., the Supreme Court ruled that the ADA's "most integrated setting appropriate" mandate requires States to avoid undue institutionalization of people with disabilities. As urged by the Department in its amicus brief, the Court upheld the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit that Georgia may have violated the ADA by confining two individuals with mental disabilities in an institution rather than providing services through a community-based program as recommended by the State's treating professionals. In finding that unjustified isolation is a form of discrimination under the ADA, the Court pointed to the stigma of unworthiness, and the unequal access to family and social interaction, employment, education, and cultural enrichment that result from unnecessary institutionalization. According to the Court, an institutional placement is unjustified when the State's treatment professionals have determined that community placement is appropriate, the transfer is not opposed by the individual, and the placement can be accomplished without fundamentally altering the State's program. In applying the fundamental alteration defense, courts are to consider not only the expense of providing community-based care to the plaintiffs in a particular case, but also the "need to maintain a range of facilities for the care and treatment of persons with diverse disabilities" and "the States' obligation to administer services with an even hand."
Supreme Court Affirms that Receipt of Social Security Disability Benefits Does Not Automatically Bar ADA Suit -- The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Cleveland v. Policy Management Systems Corp., as urged by the Department in an amicus brief, that in determining whether a plaintiff is a qualified individual with a disability in a title I employment suit, courts should not give any special weight to the fact that the individual has also applied for Social Security disability benefits. In Cleveland, the plaintiff, after suffering a stroke and losing her job, applied for and obtained Social Security benefits, claiming she was unable to work because of her disability. Subsequently, she filed suit under the ADA contending that she was qualified for the job and that she was discriminated against because the employer fired her without providing reasonable accommodation. The Court agreed with the Department that because the qualification standards under Social Security and the ADA are different, application for or receipt of Social Security benefits is not by itself inconsistent with being a qualified individual with a disability. For example, Social Security does not consider reasonable accommodation in determining whether an applicant is able to perform the applicant's past or other work. The court also ruled that, in order to avoid having her suit dismissed, the plaintiff must provide an explanation that would allow a reasonable juror to conclude that, despite having applied and received Social Security benefits, the plaintiff could still perform the essential functions of her job with or without reasonable accommodation.
Supreme Court Finds Collective Bargaining Agreement did not Waive Employee's Right to Bring ADA Suit -- In Wright v. Universal Maritime Service Corporation, the Supreme Court ruled that a South Carolina longshoreman could file an ADA lawsuit charging employment discrimination even though the job was covered by a collective bargaining agreement that generally required arbitration of employee grievances. The Court agreed with an amicus brief filed by the Department of Justice that the arbitration provision at issue in the agreement between the International Longshoremen's Association and several South Carolina stevedore companies was not specific enough to waive an employee's right to seek court enforcement of ADA rights. The Court did not reach the issue of whether even an unmistakably clear agreement could require an individual to arbitrate a claim rather than go to court.
Supreme Court Rules Asymptomatic HIV-infected Patient is Person with a Disability -- The Supreme Court decided in Bragdon v. Abbott that asymptomatic HIV status is a disability under the ADA. Plaintiff, a dental patient in Bangor, Maine, infected with HIV, but who had no outward symptoms of the disease, was denied treatment by a dentist. The patient filed suit under the ADA, alleging that, as a result of the virus, she was "disabled" and therefore protected by the Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that the patient's asymptomatic HIV status constituted a disability because it was a physical impairment that substantially limited the "major life activity" of reproduction. The Supreme Court agreed with the amicus brief filed by the Department of Justice and upheld the court of appeals in a 5-4 decision, finding that asymptomatic HIV status met all the requirements under the statutory definition of a disability -- it is a physical impairment (from the moment of infection), it impairs the major life activity of reproduction, and it "substantially limits" that activity. The court also emphasized that its conclusion was consistent with the Department of Justice's views on this issue as expressed in its regulations and technical assistance manual. As to whether the plaintiff's HIV infection posed a "direct threat" to the dentist's health, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the court of appeals for further review of the evidence.
Supreme Court Will Review Constitutionality of ADA Damages Suits Against States -- The Supreme Court will review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Garrett v. University of Alabama at Birmingham, which upheld the constitutionality of title I and title II lawsuits brought by individuals seeking damages awards from States. The Department intervened to defend the ADA in numerous suits nationwide, including Garrett. Most appellate courts have agreed with the Department and upheld the ADA suits against States. Garrett is a consolidation of two employment suits against Alabama State agencies. One involves the alleged discriminatory demotion of an individual with breast cancer by the University of Alabama, and the other a claim that the Alabama Department of Youth Services failed to reasonably accommodate an individual with chronic asthma. States have argued that, because the ADA's protections go beyond the equal protection rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress lacks authority to subject them to lawsuits under title I and title II of the ADA. The Department, however, believes that the ADA is constitutionally appropriate legislation to remedy the history of pervasive discrimination against people with disabilities, and almost all of the appellate courts have agreed.
last update: June 27, 2000