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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Department of Justice Enters into Five Agreements to Ensure Small Businesses Provide People with Disabilities Access to Neighborhood Goods and Services

The Justice Department today announced five settlement agreements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to make businesses in upstate New York and Corpus Christi, Texas, accessible to people with disabilities.

The settlements are with Hamilton Initiative in Hamilton, New York; Glenwood Plaza in Oneida, New York; Alliance NY in Cazenovia, New York, Subway of Cazenovia in Cazenovia, New York, and Water Street Seafood Company in Corpus Christi, Texas.  These businesses, including a strip mall and several restaurants, were investigated in conjunction with the department’s Project Civic Access, a Civil Rights Division initiative to ensure that cities, towns and counties throughout the country comply with the ADA.  The investigation revealed that each business had made alterations after the effective date of the ADA, but had failed to make the altered areas accessible.

At each business, certain architectural elements were inaccessible to people with disabilities.  All five businesses worked cooperatively with the department after architectural barriers to access were identified.  The department and each business agreed to remedy the barriers in compliance with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards) within certain timelines.  Details on each settlement follow: 

  • Hamilton Initiative owns and leases property to an eatery called the No. 10 Tavern.Under the agreement, the exterior entrance and restrooms will be modified to comply with the 2010 standards.

  • Glenwood Plaza is a strip mall in Oneida, New York.Under the agreement, the parking lot at the strip mall will be modified to include the required accessible parking spaces, compliant signage and access aisles.

  • Two settlement agreements were entered regarding Subway of Cazenovia sandwich shop. Alliance NY owns and leases property to Subway of Cazenovia and has agreed to renovate the exterior entrance to the restaurant to make it accessible to persons with mobility impairments.Subway of Cazenovia is the operator of the sandwich shop and has agreed to make modifications to the restroom in compliance with the 2010 Standards.

  • Water Street Seafood Company is a restaurant that has already started correcting accessibility barriers at its exterior entrance and restrooms.Under the agreement, the restaurant will continue its modifications to make the restaurant compliant with the 2010 standards.

“The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is committed to the full and fair enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division.  “While it is important to have equal access to larger venues such as hospitals and stadiums, it is equally important that people with disabilities be able to enjoy all types of goods and services in their own neighborhood.  When a business alters its space, it is critical that those alterations be made accessible so that people with disabilities can enjoy access to restaurants and businesses and be fully integrated in their communities.”

The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination by public accommodations, such as restaurants and shopping malls, and requires that when such entities make alterations, they must do so accessibly to the maximum extent feasible.  In addition, businesses have an ongoing obligation to remove architectural barriers to make their businesses accessible to persons with disabilities to the extent it is readily achievable to do so.  It is “readily achievable” to remove an accessibility barrier if it is easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense.  The Department of Justice and Small Business Administration have provided an ADA Guide for Small Businesses describing these obligations, as well as tax credits and deductions available, at http://www.ada.gov//smbustxt.htm.  People interested in finding out more about the ADA or this agreement can call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY), or access its ADA Web site at www.ada.gov.

Updated August 28, 2015