Settlement Agreement Between The United States Of America And City Utilities Of Springfield, Missouri

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 204-43-140

BACKGROUND

A. SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION

This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ァァ 12131-12134, with the United States Department of Justice ("Department") against the City Utilities of Springfield, Missouri ("City Utilities"). 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 complaint alleges that the City Utilities Main Office Building is not accessible to individuals with mobility impairments. The allegations suggest that persons with disabilities are excluded from participation in, or are denied the benefits of City Utilities' services, programs, and activities due to City Utilities' failure to comply with title II of the ADA.

The Department expanded the scope of the investigation to include City Utilities' compliance with the following title II requirements:

  • to conduct a self-evaluation of its services, policies, and practices by July 26, 1992, and make modifications necessary to comply with the Department's title II regulations (28 C.F.R. Part 35), 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.105;
  • to notify applicants, participants, beneficiaries, and other interested persons of their rights and City Utilities' obligations under title II and the Department's regulations, 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.106;
  • to designate a responsible employee to coordinate its efforts to comply and carry out City Utilities' ADA responsibilities, 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.107(a);
  • to establish a grievance procedure for resolving complaints of violations of title II, 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.107(b);
  • to operate each program, service, or activity so that, when viewed in its entirety, it is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, 28 C.F.R.
  • ァ 35.150 by:
    • delivery of services, programs, or activities in alternate ways, including, for example, redesign of equipment, reassignment of services, assignment of aides, home visits, or other methods of compliance or, if these methods are not effective in making the programs accessible,
    • physical changes to buildings (required to be made by January 26, 1995), in accordance with the Department's title II regulation, 28 C.F.R.ァ 35.151, and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design ("Standards") or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards ("UFAS");
  • to ensure that facilities for which construction or alteration was begun after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, in accordance with 1) the Department's title II regulation and 2) the Standards or UFAS, 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.151;
  • to ensure that communications with applicants, participants, and members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others, including furnishing auxiliary aids and services when necessary, 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.160;
  • where City Utilities communicates by telephone, to communicate through a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), or other equally effective telecommunications system, with individuals who have hearing or speech impairments, 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.161;
  • to provide information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of City Utilities' accessible services, activities, and facilities, 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.163(a);
  • to provide signage at all inaccessible entrances to each of its facilities directing users to an accessible entrance or to information about accessible facilities, 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.163(b).

B. JURISDICTION

  1. The ADA applies to City Utilities because it is a "public entity" as defined by title II. 42 U.S.C. ァ 12131(1).
  2. The Department is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate the complaint in this matter to determine the compliance of City Utilities with title II of the ADA and the Department's implementing title II 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 a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F.

REMEDIAL ACTION

    The parties to this agreement are the United States of America and the City Utilities of Springfield, Missouri. In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of an investigation and possible litigation, the parties hereby agree as follows:

  1. In consideration of the terms of, and consistent with, this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing civil suit in this matter regarding the areas covered by Parts A, B, and C of this agreement.
  2. The Parties agree that the technical requirements and, where appropriate, the scoping requirements of the Standards are used as a guide for determining whether a program or activity held in an existing facility is "readily accessible to and usable by" persons with disabilities, and for determining what changes are necessary to make this program or activity accessible if it continues to be provided in the existing facility in question. See 28 C.F.R. ァァ 35.150(b)(1), 35.151. The Standards appear at 28 C.F.R. Part 36,

A. POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

    Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, City Utilities will train its employees who interact or communicate with the public, who establish or implement programs, or who maintain facilities, regarding City Utilities' responsibilities under the ADA, such as responding to inquiries from individuals with disabilities who require accommodations to participate in City Utilities' programs or services.

B. PHYSICAL CHANGES TO EXISTING FACILITIES

    In order to ensure that each of City Utilities' programs, services, and activities operating in existing areas of the Main Office Building, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, City Utilities will complete the following actions within 3 months of the effective date of this Agreement:

  1. Raise the existing or install a van accessible parking sign so it can be seen when a vehicle is parked in the space. Standards ァァ 4.1.6(2), 4.1.2(5), 4.6.4.
  2. Install or alter closers on all interior doors in public access areas on all floors to ensure that no more than 5 pounds of force is required to open doors. Standards ァァ 4.1.5, 4.1.3(7), 4.13.11(2)(b).
  3. Install signs near the first floor men's and women's toilet rooms directing the public to the location of the accessible toilet rooms. Standards ァァ 4.1.6(3)(e)(iii), 4.30.
  4. Lower part of the service counter 36 inches long so that its surface is no higher than 36 inches, provide an auxiliary counter, provide equivalent facilitation, or change the method by which the service is offered through the development of a written policy for the provision of services at an accessible space. Standards ァ 7.2(2).
  5. Install a lowered section to the Information Desk 36 inches long so that its surface is no higher than 36 inches, provide an auxiliary counter, provide equivalent facilitation, or change the method by which the service is offered through the development of a written policy for the provision of services at an accessible space. Standards ァ 7.2(2).

    In order to ensure that each of City Utilities' programs, services, and activities operating in existing areas of the Training Center, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, City Utilities will complete the following actions within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement:

  6. Install or alter door closers on all interior doors in public access areas to ensure that no more than 5 pounds of force is required to open doors. Standards ァァ 4.1.5, 4.1.3(7), 4.1.6(2), 4.13.11(2)(b).
  7. Install a lowered section to the Security Desk 36 inches long so that its surface is no higher than 36 inches, provide an auxiliary counter, or change the method by which the service is offered through the development of a written policy for the provision of services at an accessible space. Standards ァ 7.2(2).
  8. Install signs near the first floor men's and women's toilet rooms directing the public to the location of the accessible toilet rooms on the second floor. Standards ァァ 4.1.6(3)(e)(iii), 4.30.

C. PHYSICAL CHANGES TO NEW OR ALTERED FACILITIES

    In order to ensure that the fourth floor of the Main Office Building, which was constructed in 1993, is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities in accordance with the Department's title II regulation and the Standards, 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.151, City Utilities will complete the following actions within 3 months of the effective date of this Agreement:

  1. Lower or install coat hooks in the accessible stalls of the fourth floor men's and women's toilet rooms to no higher than 54 inches maximum above the finished floor for a side reach. Standards ァァ 4.1.5, 4.1.3(12), 4.2.6, 4.25.3.
  2. Adjust the rear grab bars in the accessible stalls of the fourth floor men's and women's toilet rooms so that they are a maximum of 6 inches from the side walls. Standards ァァ 4.1.5, 4.1.3(11), 4.22.4, 4.17.6, Figure 30.
  3. Lower or replace the sanitary napkin dispenser in the fourth floor women's toilet room so that the coin slot is no more than 54 inches above the finished floor for a side reach. Standards ァァ 4.1.5, 4.1.3(11), 4.2.6, 4.22.7, 4.27.3.
  4. Provide one drinking fountain that has a minimum knee clearance of 27 inches between the bottom of the apron and the floor and a spout height no more than 36 inches between the floor and the spout outlet or provide cups within accessible reach ranges. Standards ァァ 4.1.5, 4.1.3(10), 4.2.5, 4.2.6, 4.15.5, 4.15.2.
  5. Provide one drinking fountain or water cooler accessible to individuals who have difficulty bending or stooping or provide cups within accessible reach ranges. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(10), 4.1.5, 4.2.5.

    In order to ensure that the second floor of the Training Center, which was constructed in 1993, is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, City Utilities will complete the following actions within 3 months of the effective date of this Agreement:

  6. Lower or replace coat hooks in the accessible stalls of the second floor men's and women's toilet rooms so that they are no higher than 54 inches above the finished floor for a side reach. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(11), 4.1.5, 4.2.6, 4.22.7, 4.27.3.
  7. Adjust the rear grab bars in the accessible stalls of the second floor men's and women's toilet rooms so that they are a maximum of 6 inches from the side wall. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(11), 4.1.5, 4.22.4, 4.17.6, Figure 30.
  8. Provide one drinking fountain that has a minimum knee clearance of 27 inches between the bottom of the apron and the floor and a spout height no more than 36 inches between the floor and the spout outlet or provide cups within accessible reach ranges. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(10), 4.1.5, 4.2.5, 4.2.6, 4.15.5, 4.15.2.
  9. Provide one drinking fountain or water cooler accessible to individuals who have difficulty bending or stooping or provide cups within accessible reach ranges. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(10), 4.1.5, 4.2.5, 4.2.6.
  10. Install or alter door closers on all interior doors in public access areas to ensure that no more than 5 pounds of force is required to open doors. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(7), 4.1.5, 4.13.11(2)(b).

    In order to ensure that the TecHouse, which was constructed 1993, is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, City Utilities will complete the following actions within 3 months of the effective date of this Agreement:

  11. Raise or install accessible parking signs to where they can be seen when a vehicle is parked in the space and reposition the "Van Accessible" sign so that it is mounted below the symbol of accessibility. Standards ァァ 4.1.2(5), 4.6.4.
  12. Widen the space in front of the men's and women's toilet rooms, provide an automatic door opener, or reverse the door swing so that the pull side maneuvering clearance is at least 54 inches wide. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(7), 4.13.6, Figure 25(c).
  13. Install or alter door closers on all interior doors in public access areas to ensure that no more than 5 pounds of force is required to open doors. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(7), 4.13.11(2)(b).
  14. City Utilities will evaluate the height of the toilet in the accessible stall of the women's toilet room, will determine the best alternative to address the issue, and will complete any appropriate modifications. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(11), 4.17.3, Figure 30, 4.23.4.
  15. In the men's and women's toilet rooms, locate a toilet seat cover dispenser in a location that provides 30 inches by 48 inches of clear floor space and is no higher than 48 inches maximum above the floor for a forward approach or 54 inches maximum above the floor for a side approach. Standards ァ 4.22.7, 4.27.2, 4.2.4.1, 4.27.3, 4.2.5, 4.2.6, Fig. 6.
  16. Provide a seat in the shower stalls of the men's and women's toilet rooms that meets the requirements of the Standards. Standards ァァ 4.23.8, 4.21.3, Figure 35, Figure 36, Figure 37.
  17. In each shower room, provide coat hooks and shelves that are no higher than 54 inches above the finish floor. Standards ァァ 4.1.6(1)(b), 4.1.3(12)(a), 4.2.6, 4.25.3.
  18. Provide a drinking fountain with 27 inches of knee clearance or provide cups within accessible reach ranges. Standards ァァ 4.1.3(10), 4.2.5, 4.2.6, 4.15.5.
  19. Provide a drinking fountain or water cooler accessible to individuals who have difficulty bending or stooping or provide cups within accessible reach ranges. Standards ァ 4.1.3(10), 4.1.5, 4.2.5, 4.2.6.

IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT

  1. Except as otherwise specified in this Agreement, at 90 and 180 days after the effective date of this Agreement, and thereafter at yearly anniversaries of the effective date, City Utilities will submit written reports to the Department summarizing the actions City Utilities has taken pursuant to this Agreement. Reports will include photographs, architectural plans, notices published in the newspapers, copies of adopted policies, and proof of efforts to secure funding/assistance for structural renovations.
  2. If at any time City Utilities desires to modify any portion of this Agreement because of a change in conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, it will promptly notify the Department in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written Agreement by the Department to the proposed modification, the proposed modification will not take effect. These actions cannot be taken by City Utilities unless City Utilities receives the prior written approval of the Department, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld or delayed.
  3. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that this Agreement or any portion of it has been violated, it will so notify City Utilities in writing and it will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the Department is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues raised within 30 days of the date it provides notice to City Utilities, it may institute a civil action in federal district court directly to enforce title II or to enforce the terms of this Agreement.
  4. 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.
  5. In the event that City Utilities fails to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department as a temporary modification of the relevant terms of this Agreement, the Department may file suit in an appropriate federal court to enforce the terms of the Agreement or may declare the Agreement null and void and file suit to enforce title II of the ADA.
  6. 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 City Utilities or the Department on request.
  7. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
  8. 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 City Utilities' continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
  9. This Agreement will remain in effect for three years from the effective date of this Agreement.
  10. The person signing for City Utilities represents that he or she is authorized to bind City Utilities to this Agreement.

For City Utilities:

______________________________________      Date:____________
Robert E. Roundtree, General Manager

For the United States:

BILL LANN LEE,
Acting Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights

By:____________________________________      Date:____________

   JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
   L. IRENE BOWEN, Deputy Chief
   SUSAN B. REILLY, Supervising Attorney
   AME EDUARDO, Investigator
   Disability Rights Section
   Civil Rights Division
   U.S. Department of Justice
   P.O. Box 66738
   Washington, DC 20035-6738 >
Updated August 6, 2015

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