Settlement Agreement Under The Americans With Disabilities Act Between The United States Of America And The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

DJ# 202-79-35


1. This matter was initiated by a complaint filed with the United States Department of Justice ("the Department") against the owners and operators of Colonial Williamsburg. The complaint alleged that the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, ("the Foundation,") violated title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, by failing to remove barriers to access where it is readily achievable to do so and by undertaking new construction and alterations not in compliance with the ADA. Specifically, the complaint stated that certain of the facility's parking areas, entrances, historic attractions, lodging, and restrooms were inaccessible to persons with mobility, hearing, and vision impairments.

The Parties

2. The parties to this Settlement Agreement ("Agreement") are the United States of America and the Foundation.

3. The Foundation is a public accommodation as defined by title III of the ADA because it is the owner or operator of Colonial Williamsburg,"a living history museum" which is a place of recreation and amusement. 42 U.S.C. § 12181; 28 C.F.R. § 36.104 (12).

4. The United States enters into this agreement pursuant to its authority under 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b); 28 C.F.R. § 36.502. The parties to this Agreement enter into this agreement in order to avoid litigation.

Factual History

5. On October 4, 1993, the Department received a complaint alleging discrimination against people with disabilities by the Foundation, as owner and operator of Colonial Williamsburg. The complaint alleged that Colonial Williamsburg performed alterations without ensuring access to persons with disabilities. The complaint further alleged that Colonial Williamsburg failed to remove barriers to access where such removal is readily achievable.

6. The Foundation was first contacted by the Department regarding these allegations on February 24, 1994. On April 4, 1994, the investigation was expanded to include a compliance review of Colonial Williamsburg's removal of architectural barriers in each existing facility, and a review of the availability of auxiliary aids and services in hotels and for tours.

7. In response to the Department's investigation, the Foundation provided an existing capital improvements plan for removing architectural barriers at the facility's parking area, hotels, entrances, and restrooms. The plans were reviewed by the Department and the investigation was extended to allow Colonial Williamsburg additional time to complete necessary changes.

8. On February 24, 1998, the Department conducted another site inspection to review the alterations or modifications completed in accordance with the capital improvement plan. Certain of the modifications called for in the capital improvement plan had not been completed.


9. The Foundation is a private entity that operates Colonial Williamsburg, a place of public accommodation as defined by title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12181 and 28 C.F.R § 36.104. Many of the public accommodations within Colonial Williamsburg constitute qualified historic buildings or facilities covered by 42 U.S.C. §12204 (c) and 28 C.F.R. §36.405. Colonial Williamsburg was constructed prior to the effective date of the ADA's provisions for new construction. Since the effective date of the ADA, Colonial Williamsburg has undergone new construction and alterations of some facilities.

10. The Department contends that Colonial Williamsburg has failed to remove barriers to access in violation of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12182 and 28 C.F.R. § 36.304. The Department also contends that Colonial Williamsburg has undertaken new construction and alterations that do not comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, 28 C.F.R. part 36, Appendix A ("Standards"). The Foundation denies any violations of the ADA.

11. To resolve this matter and to demonstrate the Foundation's commitment to operate in compliance with title III, the Foundation agrees to complete the measures listed below, to the extent they have not already been completed. All changes will comply with the Standards.

A. The parties acknowledge that the Foundation has already completed the following measures:

In the Visitor's Center restrooms:

(a) The doors to the accessible stalls have been switched to swing outward, providing clear floor space.

In the Cascades restrooms:

(a) Provided an accessible lavatory outside the accessible stall which is mounted with a rim no higher than 34" inches above the finished surface.

(b) All accessible hot water and drain pipes under lavatories have been insulated or otherwise configured to protect against contact.

In the Woodlands Hotel:

(a) Room #5451 (Hospitality Suite) has been modified in the following ways to make it accessible:

(1) Corrected the 1/2" vertical change in the roll-in shower at floor level.

(2) Relocated the grab bar behind the shower seat to comply with figure 57(a) of the Standards.

The William Waters Kitchen restrooms:

(a) Adjusted doors to eliminate excessive force.

(b) Replaced brick cobble walkway at entry with an accessible path of travel.

In the Market Square Tavern family restrooms:

(a) The toilet paper dispensers have been repositioned below the side grab bars.

  • In the Williamsburg Lodge and Conference Center:

(a) The door swing in the accessible restrooms has been changed to swing outward.

  • In the Raleigh Tavern Bakery:

(a) Handrails have been modified to provide a grippable surface.

B. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Foundation will complete the following modifications:

  • In the Visitor Center restrooms:

(a) The height of the accessible lavatory counters will be lowered to 34" inches.

(b) The mirrors will be adjusted so that the bottom edge of the reflecting surface is not more than 40" inches above the floor.

(c) Signage will be provided at the lower level restrooms directing patrons with disabilities to the accessible restrooms.

  • In the William Waters Kitchen restrooms:

(a) Insulate all exposed hot water and drain pipes.

  • In Shields Tavern:

(a) Modify handrails on the ramp to provide a grippable surface.

C. Within 180 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Foundation will complete the following modifications:

  • Bakery and Shields Tavern:

(a) Modify handrails on the ramp so that the handrail ends return to the ground or wall.

12. Within 210 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Foundation will submit documentation (photos, written certification, etc.) of all the physical modifications listed above to the Department. The remaining modifications to the Visitor's Center lower level restroom will be completed in accordance with the Foundation's capital improvement plan.

13. The United States agrees that the Foundation's completion of the steps set forth (in this Agreement will fully resolve the administrative complaint DJ# 202-79-35.


14. This Agreement is not and shall not in any way be deemed to be or construed as an admission by the Foundation of any unlawful or wrongful acts whatsoever. The Foundation denies that it or any of its current or former employees or agents have violated the ADA, and enters this Agreement as a means of reaffirming its commitment to access to its facilities for all patrons.

15. The Attorney General is authorized, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12188 (b)(1)(B), to bring a civil action under Title III, enforcing the ADA in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist or a matter of general public importance is raised. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, The Department and the Attorney General agree that unless the Foundation fails to comply with the terms of this Agreement, as set forth in ¶ 16 following, the Attorney General will refrain from filing a civil suit or pursuing any other civil or criminal remedies. The agreement to refrain from suit applies only to any building or facility or any services at Colonial Williamsburg with respect to which the Department has received any complaint or conducted any inspection before the effective date of this Agreement and which building, facility, or services are covered by the provisions of this Agreement and maintained as prescribed in this Agreement.

16. In the event that the Foundation materially fails to comply in a timely fashion

with any requirements of this Agreement, without obtaining sufficient written agreement with the United States as to a modification of the relevant terms of the Agreement, all terms of the Agreement become enforceable in Federal district court and the Attorney General is authorized to seek civil penalties, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.§ 12188 (b) (2) (c). Any failure to comply with the terms of this Agreement that is attributable to reasons beyond the control of the Foundation (e.g., permitting or construction delays, receipt of defective equipment, delivery delays, etc) shall not be deemed a breach of this Agreement if the Foundation has made good faith efforts to satisfy its requirements and has obtained the written agreement of the United States (which agreement shall not be unreasonably withheld) to modify the relevant term of the Agreement.

17. Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department of Justice's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.


18. 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 Foundation or the Department on request.


19. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

20. 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 agent of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, will be enforceable under the provisions hereof.


21. 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 the Foundation's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of title III of the ADA.

22. The signer of this document for the Foundation represents that he is authorized to bind the Foundation to this Agreement.


Acting Assistant Attorney General For Civil Rights

Bill Lann Lee


______________________________________ _________________

John Wodatch, Chief       Date

Alison Nichol, Deputy Chief

Susan Reilly, Supervising Attorney

Celeste A. Simmons, Investigator

Disability Rights Section

Civil Rights Division

U.S. Department of Justice

P.O. Box 66738

Washington, D.C. 20035-6738

Tel: (202) 307-0663

For the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

___________________________________ _________________

Robert C. Wilburn       Date


Williamsburg Foundation

P.O. Box 1776

Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-1776

Updated August 6, 2015

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