Settlement Agreement Between The United States Of America And Prince George's County, Maryland, And Prince George's County Fire Department

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
COMPLAINT NUMBERS 204-35-23 & 204-35-49

This matter was initiated by complaints filed against the Prince George's County Government and its Fire Department under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ァァ 12131-12134. The complaints allege that the County discriminated against XXXX and XXX on the basis of disability by refusing to accept them for active membership as emergency medical technicians ("EMT's") at the County's Fire Department.

The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the Prince George's County, Maryland, a public body corporate and politic, and its Fire Department (collectively, the "County"). The parties agree that this Agreement is not an admission of violation and should not be construed as an admission by the County of any violation.

  1. The ADA applies to the County because it is a public entity as defined in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing Title II. 42 U.S.C. ァ 12131; 28 C.F.R. 35.104.
  2. The County, by and through its officials, agents, employees and all persons in active concert or participation with the County, shall not automatically, absolutely or categorically reject volunteer fire fighter or volunteer rescue technician applicants solely on the basis of disability. Instead, the County shall evaluate, on an individualized basis, every applicant's ability to perform the essential functions of the position, including considering his/her current physical abilities to perform the essential functions of the position, with or without an accommodation. The County shall conduct such an individualized assessment if it initially accepts an applicant for membership contingent upon passing a medical examination of his/her physical condition.
  3. In making any decision on a volunteer application, the County shall not use any personnel standards, including but not limited to medical or physical standards, that require automatic, absolute, or categorical exclusions or other limitations of applicants based on those applicants' physical conditions. All application decisions shall be based on an individualized assessment, as described in paragraphs four (4) through five (5) below.
  4. Before rejecting a volunteer applicant on the basis that he or she poses a direct threat to the health or safety of himself/herself or others, the County shall perform an individualized assessment, including a consideration of all relevant factors such as the duration of the risk, the nature and severity of the potential harm, the likelihood that the potential harm will occur, and the imminence of the potential harm. In evaluating those factors, the County will consider all relevant information, including but not limited to input from the applicant, the County's Medical Advisory Board evaluations, experience of the applicant within previous similar position, and the opinions of medical doctors, and other professionals who have expertise in the medical condition involved and/or direct knowledge relevant to the applicant's abilities to perform.
  5. Before rejecting a volunteer applicant on the basis that he/she poses a direct threat to himself/herself or others, the County shall advise the applicant of the reasons for the proposed rejection, including each essential function of the job which Defendant believes the applicant cannot perform and all of the reasons why the County believes the applicant cannot perform those functions, and invite him/her to provide, within a reasonable time, additional information about his or her ability to perform the job, with or without an accommodation, including but not limited to information from other physicians and information about his/her current and recent physical capabilities as described in paragraph four (4), above. The County shall evaluate this information in good faith to determine whether the applicant can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
  6. The County shall provide ADA training to all personnel who participate in making volunteer application decisions, and to medical personnel hired to evaluate applicants. Such training shall include at least the provisions of paragraph four (4). Within ninety (90) business days after the training has been completed, the County shall provide to counsel for the United States written certification that it has conducted such training.
  7. Within one hundred twenty (120) days of entry of this Agreement, the County shall review and where necessary modify its volunteer 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 shall include modifications to ensure compliance with paragraphs three (3) through five (5).
  8. The County shall post notices (in the form of Appendix A) in conspicuous places at the Fire Services Building, at the fire headquarters, and at all fire stations and substations. The notices shall remain posted for six (6) months from the date of entry of this Settlement.
  9. Within sixty (60) days of entry of this Agreement, the County shall reevaluate, on an individualized basis, which will include a new volunteer applicant physical examination, Ms. XXXX's and Ms. XXX abilities to perform the essential functions of the EMT position, including considering their current physical abilities to perform the essential functions of the position with or without an accommodation.
  10. The County shall not condition the acceptance of Ms. XXXX's and Ms. XXX volunteer applications on the completion of any conditions that are not routinely required of volunteer applicants of the Fire Department in Prince George's County.
  11. If Ms. XXX is found able to perform all essential functions of the EMT position with the Fire Department in Prince George's County, with or without an accommodation, and in accordance with standards set forth above, the County shall offer Ms. XXX at no cost a reentry program for EMT certification.
  12. The County shall notify Ms. XXXX and Ms. XXXof the terms of this Settlement within seven (7) days of its entry by mailing to them, by certified mail, return receipt requested, a copy of the letter in the form set forth in Appendix B or C and enclosing a copy of the Settlement. The letter identified as Appendix B or C shall advise the individual that to accept the offer of reevaluation, they must return their Appendix D form to the County within thirty (30) days of their receipt of the Appendix B letter unless they show good cause for their failure to do so.
  13. This Agreement shall terminate three (3) years from the date of its entry.
  14. Within one hundred eighty (180) calendar days after entry of this Settlement, the County shall provide counsel for the United States a report showing the disposition of individual relief for Ms. XXXX and Ms. XXX pursuant to this Settlement and copies of all the documents contained in their personnel file. Within thirty (30) calendar days of the completion of the examination and modification of procedures described in paragraph seven, the County shall forward counsel for the United States copies of all selection procedures and policies related to the acceptance of volunteer firefighter/paramedic applicants in the County Fire Department. In addition, the County shall make available for inspection and copying, within thirty (30) calendar days after receipt of a request by the United States, through its counsel, all documents used for the County's compliance with and implementation of this Agreement.
  15. The County is not required to take actions that would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a service, program, or activity or in undue financial and administrative burdens. In determining whether financial and administrative burdens are undue, all County resources available for use in the funding and operation of the service, program, or activity should be considered.
  16. 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 civil suit in this matter.
  17. Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of its right to do so with regard to other provisions of this Agreement.
  18. This Agreement is a public document and constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein. Copies of this Agreement shall be made available to any person by either party upon request to that party.
  19. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

For the Prince George's County:

____________________________________      Date:___________
BARBARA L HOLTZ
Acting County Attorney
The Prince George's County Government
Office of Law
Room 5121
County Administration Bldg.
Upper Marlboro, MD 20722
(301) 952-4874

For the United States:

____________________________________      Date:___________
JOHN L. WODATCH
Chief, Disability Rights Section
RENEE M. WOHLENHAUS
Acting Deputy Chief
ROBERT J. MATHER, Trial Attorney
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
(202) 307-2236

A P P E N D I X A

NOTICE TO APPLICANTS FOR COUNTY

IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS FOR EMTS

This Notice is posted pursuant to a Settlement Agreement between the United States Department of Justice and the Prince George's County, Maryland, and Prince George's County Fire Department, entered on April 9, 1998.

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities from disability by State and local governments.

Complaints should be directed to the Prince George's County Human Relations Commission, 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772, Telephone (301) 883-6170, Fax (301) 780-8244, Email hrcstaff@co.pg.md.us, Website http://www.co.pg.md.us,U TDD (301) 925-5167; to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 10 S. Howard Street, 3rd Floor, Baltimore, MD 21201, Telephone (410) 962-3932, TDD (410) 962-6065; or to the U.S. Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, P.O. 66738, Washington, D.C. 20036-6738, Telephone (800) 514-0301, TDD (800) 514-0383.

Prince George's County supports and will comply with the ADA in all respects.

_________________________________
Signature

_______________________
Date

_________________________________
Title

A P P E N D I X B

NOTICE LETTER

Ms. XXX
P.O. Box 6941
Falls Church, Virginia 22040

Dear Ms. XXX:

We are offering you a reevaluation of your application for active membership as a volunteer emergency medical technician in the Prince George's County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

If you are found able to perform all essential functions of the volunteer EMT position with the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department, with or without an accommodation, we will offer you, at our expense, a reentry program for EMT certification.

You may accept the offer of reevaluation by completing and returning the enclosed form to the following address:

ROBERT MELLIN
Associate County Attorney
The Prince George's County Government
Office of Law
Room 5121
County Administration Building Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772
(301) 952-4874

You must sign the form before you return it. If you fail to submit this release, as directed in this letter, within thirty (30) days from your receipt of this letter, you will forfeit your rights to reevaluation, unless you can show good cause for your failure to do so within a reasonable time thereafter.

Sincerely,

___________________________
ROBERT MELLIN
Associate County Attorney
The Prince George's County Government

Enclosure

A P P E N D I X C

NOTICE LETTER

Ms. XXXX
Jessup, Maryland 20794

Dear Ms. XXXXr:

We are offering you a reevaluation of your application for active membership as a volunteer emergency medical technician in the Prince George's County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

You may accept the offer of reevaluation by completing and returning the enclosed form to the following address:

ROBERT MELLIN
Associate County Attorney
The Prince George's County Government
Office of Law
Room 5121
County Administration Building
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772
(301) 952-4874

You must sign the form before you return it. If you fail to submit this release, as directed in this letter, within thirty (30) days from your receipt of this letter, you will forfeit your rights to reevaluation, unless you can show good cause for your failure to do so within a reasonable time thereafter.

Sincerely,

___________________________
ROBERT MELLIN
Associate County Attorney
The Prince George's County Government

Enclosure

A P P E N D I X D

REEVALUATION FORM

Please complete by checking the appropriate response to each following:

Offer of Reevaluation

_____________ I hereby accept the offer of reevaluation of my application for volunteer membership in the Prince George's County Fire and EMS Department as an emergency medical technician.

_____________ I decline the offer of reevaluation.

Date:________________ Signature ________________________________

FAILURE TO RETURN THIS FORM WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS WILL RESULT IN FORFEITURE OF YOUR RIGHT TO REEVALUATION UNLESS YOU SHOW GOOD CAUSE FOR YOUR FAILURE TO TIMELY RESPOND.

RETURN THE COMPLETED FORM TO:

ROBERT MELLIN
Associate County Attorney
The Prince George's County Government
Office of Law
Room 5121
County Administration Building
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772
(301) 952-4192

Updated August 22, 2016

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