Settlement Agreement Between The United States Of America And Board Of Commissioners, Clifton Park-halfmoon Fire District No. 1

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 204-50-107

BACKGROUND

This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ァァ 12131-12134, with the United States Department of Justice ("Department of Justice") against the Board of Commissioners of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Fire District No. 1 ("Fire District"). The complaint was received by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, under the authority of 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F. The complainant alleged that the Fire District refused to accept the complainant's application for membership as a fire fighter with the Fire District because he has a disability. It is also alleged that the Fire District utilizes membership standards that exclude individuals solely on the basis of disability.
The Department of Justice is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate fully the allegations of the complaint in this matter to determine the Fire District's compliance with title II of the ADA and the Justice Department's implementing regulation; to issue findings; and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. ァ 12133, to bring civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department of Justice fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing a civil suit in this matter.
The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the Board of Commissioners of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Fire District No. 1. The Fire District is a political subdivision of the State of New York. The Board of Fire Commissioners controls the Fire District under the provisions set forth in its constitution.
In the interests of avoiding the costs of litigation and securing compliance by voluntary means, the parties hereby agree as follows:
  1. The Fire District is a public entity covered by title II of the ADA as defined in the Department of Justice regulation implementing title II. 42 U.S.C. ァ 12131; 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.104.
  2. Under title II of the ADA, the Fire District is prohibited from excluding qualified individuals with disabilities from participation in services, programs or activities of the Fire District, on the basis of disability. 42 U.S.C. ァ 12132; 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.130(a).
  3. Under title II of the ADA, the Fire District is prohibited from imposing or applying eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an individual with a disability or any class of individuals with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying any service, program or activity, unless such criteria can be shown to be necessary for the provision of the service, program or activity being offered. 42 U.S.C. ァ 12132; 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.130(b)(8).
  4. The Fire District, by and through its officials, agents, employees and all persons in active concert or participation with the Fire District, will not deny membership to any applicant solely on the basis of disability. The Fire District will evaluate, on an individualized basis, every applicant's ability to satisfy the essential eligibility requirements of the position, including considering his/her current physical abilities to meet the essential eligibility requirements, with or without a reasonable modification in policies or practices.
  5. The Fire District will not utilize any eligibility criteria, including but not limited to medical/physical standards (e.g., standards issued by the National Fire Protection Association), that require automatic, absolute, or categorical exclusions or other limitations of applicants based on those applicants' physical conditions. All selection decisions will be based on an individualized assessment, as described in paragraphs six (6) and seven (7) below.
  6. Before rejecting an applicant, the Fire District will perform an individualized assessment within the meaning of 28 C.F.R. ァ 36.208. Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services, 56 Fed. Reg. 35,701 (1991) (codified at 28 C.F.R. pt. 35, app. A). This individualized assessment will include consideration of all relevant factors including: determining whether the individual satisfies the prerequisites of the position, and, second, whether he/she can perform the essential functions of the position; next, the duration of the alleged risk caused by the applicant's disability; the nature and severity of the potential harm; the likelihood that the potential harm will occur; and the imminence of the potential harm; and whether a reasonable accommodation would eliminate the risk or reduce it to an acceptable level. In evaluating those factors, the Fire District will consider all relevant information, including, but not limited to: input from the applicant; the experience of the applicant within previous similar positions; and the opinions of medical doctors and other professionals who have professional training and expertise about the medical condition involved and/or relevant medical history of the applicant, specifically including the doctor hired by the Fire District to evaluate persons offered membership by the Fire District.
  7. Under all circumstances, the Fire District will advise the applicant of the reasons for the proposed rejection, including each essential eligibility requirement of the position which the Fire District believes the applicant does not meet and all of the reasons why the Fire District believes the applicant does not meet any requirement, and will invite him/her to provide, within a reasonable time, additional information in regard to his/her ability to meet cited requirements, with or without a reasonable modification, including but not limited to information from other physicians and information about his/her current and recent physical capabilities as described in paragraph six (6). The Fire District will evaluate this information in good faith to determine whether the applicant meets the essential eligibility requirements of the position, with, or without, a reasonable accommodation.
  8. The Fire District will provide ADA training to all of its members, and to medical personnel hired to evaluate applicants. Such training will include general information on disabilities, all titles of the ADA, legal employment practices, and the requirements of this Agreement. Within five (5) business days after the training has been completed, the Fire District will provide to the Department written certification that it has conducted such training.
  9. Within sixty (60) days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Fire District will review, and where necessary modify, its application, selection, promotion, evaluation, and termination procedures and standards to ensure that such procedures and standards comply with title II of the ADA. This review will include modifications to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Agreement.
  10. The Fire District will post notices (in the form of Appendix A) in conspicuous places at all fire stations. The notices will remain posted for six (6) months from the effective date of this Agreement.
  11. The Fire District, by and through its officials, agents, employees and all persons in active concert or participation with the Fire District, will not retaliate against Complainant or any other person because that person has opposed policies or practices he or she believes to discriminate on the basis of disability, has filed a complaint with the Department, or because of that person's participation in or cooperation with the initiation, investigation, litigation or administration of the complaint on which the complaint in this case is predicated or this Agreement.
  12. In addition, the Fire District will make available for inspection and copying, within fourteen (14) days after receipt of a request by the Department all documents used for the Fire District's compliance with and implementation of this Agreement.
  13. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If it determines that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it may elect to institute a civil action seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement in an appropriate Federal court.
  14. Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  15. In the event that the Fire District fails to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement, all terms of this Agreement shall become enforceable in an appropriate Federal court.
  16. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it may be made available to any person by the Fire District or the Department upon request.
  17. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
  18. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, shall be enforceable. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not affect the Fire District's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.

For the Fire District:

_______________________________      Date:___________


For the United States:

BILL LANN LEE,
Acting Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights

By:_______________________________      Date:__________
   JOHN WODATCH, Chief
   RENEE WOHLENHAUS, Deputy Chief
   NAOMI H. MILTON, Attorney
   Disability Rights Section
   Civil Rights Division
   U.S. Department of Justice
   P.O. Box 66738
   Washington, DC 20035-6738

A P P E N D I X A NOTICE TO APPLICANTS

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by State and local governments. The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual in regard to membership application procedures, or other programs, services, or activities conducted by Clifton Park-Halfmoon Fire District No. 1.

The U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) is the federal agency primarily responsible for investigating individual charges of discrimination under Title II of the ADA. Any individual who believes that he or she has been discriminated against in violation of the ADA, or who desires more information on the ADA or other employment discrimination statutes can contact the USDOJ at the following address and phone number:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, DC 20037-6738
Phone No. (202) 514-0301
TDD No. (202) 514-0383
Fax No. (202) 307-1197

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Updated August 6, 2015

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