Settlement Agreement Between The United States Of America And Seminar Concepts, Hattiesburg, Ms.

This matter was initiated by a complaint filed with the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi against Seminar Concepts, Inc. to enforce Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ァァ 12181-89, and the Title III regulation, 28 C.F.R. pt. 36. Seminar Concepts offers continuing education courses in the field of Physical and Occupational Therapy. The complaint alleges that Seminar Concepts, in its operation of its courses, violated the ADA by failing to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services to a student with a disability.

The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and Seminar Concepts (Respondent), Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The parties stipulate that this Agreement was entered into to avoid the cost of litigation and is not an admission of violation and should not be construed as an admission by Respondent of any ADA violation.

The parties stipulate as follows:

  1. Respondent is a public accommodation offering courses relating to applications, licensing, certification, or credentialing for secondary or postsecondary educational, professional, or trade purposes within the meaning of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. ァ 12189 and 28 C.F.R. ァァ 36.104 and 36.309.
  2. Students with hearing impairments that substantially limit a major life activity are individuals with disabilities within the meaning of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. ァ 12102(2) and 28 C.F.R. ァ 36.104.
  3. "Appropriate auxiliary aids and services", 42 U.S.C. ァ 12102(1) and 28 C.F.R. ァ 36.303, are those auxiliary aids and services that provide:
    1. Effective communication of the contents of the courses being offered by Respondent; and
    2. An equal opportunity both to participate in the complete educational experience offered by Respondent's courses and to benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations provided to other students.

    Depending on the facts and circumstances of each particular situation, appropriate auxiliary aids and services may include qualified interpreters (ASL, cued speech, etc.), computer-aided transcription (CAT) services, assistive listening devices, notetakers, and other similar aids and services.

  4. "Undue burden" means significant difficulty or expense. 28 C.F.R. ァ 104. Any claim that the provision of auxiliary aids and services constitutes an undue burden shall be measured against the overall financial resources of the corporate entity rather than the income generated from one single course.
  5. In determining what constitutes appropriate auxiliary aids or services, Respondent shall consult with the student requesting the particular aids or services.
  6. Respondent's courses may involve complex and lengthy communications. After consultation with the student, Respondent shall determine what type of auxiliary aids or services shall be provided. In general, when the student regularly has used particular aids and services, such as sign language interpreters, notetakers, real time transcripts, Respondent shall provide such aids and services unless Respondent can demonstrate that providing the requested aids and services will fundamentally alter the nature of the course offered or will result in an undue burden.
  7. The following procedures shall be followed by Respondent's staff in handling requests for auxiliary aids and services:
    1. Any member of Respondent's staff who receives a request for auxiliary aids or services, either oral or written as a part of the application process, shall promptly consult with the student to determine the nature of the requested auxiliary aids or services.
    2. After Respondent receives a request for auxiliary aids and services, a determination regarding what auxiliary aids and services will be provided shall be made as promptly as possible. This determination shall be made at least 30 days prior to the commencement of the course or no later than 30 days after the initial request is received, whichever deadline is later. If the request is received less than 30 days before the commencement of the course, Respondent will make every effort to procure the appropriate auxiliary aids and services.
    3. After a decision is made regarding what particular auxiliary aids or services will be offered, a member of Respondent's staff shall ensure that the auxiliary aids or services are properly and promptly provided. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the particular situation, such steps may include arranging for notetaking services, locating and making arrangements for the presence of qualified interpreters, ensuring that written course materials are converted into appropriate alternate formats, etc.
  8. Respondent shall provide training for all its staff regarding its policy concerning auxiliary aids and services. Specifically, Respondent shall educate its staff regarding:
    1. The various types of disabilities students might have;
    2. The types of auxiliary aids and services that are available for use by students with disabilities; and
    3. The procedures that must be followed to ensure that appropriate auxiliary aids and services are provided to students who need them.
  9. Respondent shall include information regarding the availability of auxiliary aids and services for students with disabilities in advertising and application materials which contain substantive written descriptions of its courses. Such materials shall state the procedures that a student must follow to ensure the provision of such aids and services and shall urge students to make their requests for auxiliary aids and services as early as possible so that the requests can be addressed promptly and properly.
  10. For a period of three years, Respondent shall make bi-annual reports to the U. S. Attorney's Office summarizing its compliance with this agreement. Such reports shall contain:
    1. The number of requests for auxiliary aids and services received by Respondent;
    2. The nature of each request;
    3. The date of each request;
    4. The disposition of each request;
    5. If a request was not granted in full, the reasons that the request was not granted in full.
  11. During the term of this agreement, the United States shall have the right, upon reasonable notice, to inspect and copy any and all records related to Respondent's obligations stated herein. These records include, but are not limited to, Respondent's advertising materials, training materials, student requests for auxiliary aids or services, and student files relating to those requests.
  12. Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this entire Agreement, or any provision thereof, with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein, will not be construed as a waiver of its right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  13. 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, will be enforceable under its provisions.
  14. This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth herein and does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not affect Seminar Concept's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of Title III of the ADA.
  15. In the event that Seminar Concepts fails to comply in a timely fashion with any requirement of this agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department as to a temporary modification of the relevant terms of the agreement, all terms of this agreement shall become enforceable in United States District Court, and such failure shall be considered a subsequent violation within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. ァ 12188(b)(2)(C)(ii).
  16. Each signer of this document for Respondent represents that he or she is authorized to bind Seminar Concepts to this Agreement.
  17. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

For Seminar Concepts:

________________________________      Date:___________
LAWRENCE ARRINGTON
Attorney for Seminar
Concepts

For the United States:

BRAD PIGOTT
United States Attorney

By:_____________________________      Date:___________
   PSHON BARRETT
   Assistant United States Attorney
   Southern District of Mississippi

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Updated August 6, 2015

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