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Press Release

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Alleging Disability
Discrimination by the City of Baltimore, Maryland

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced it has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore alleging that the city of Baltimore’s zoning code discriminates against individuals with disabilities by requiring substance abuse treatment facilities to go through a burdensome "conditional ordinance" zoning process in order to locate in any zone.

Other comparable facilities are not required to go through the conditional ordinance process, which requires approval by the Baltimore City Council and the local neighborhood association. Because of unfounded stereotypes about persons with disabilities who are in drug treatment, this process has resulted in facilities not getting a permit or in expending tremendous resources to get the permit.

"Persons with disabilities must not be subject to different, and more burdensome, zoning standards because of unfounded stereotypes," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Drug treatment programs are vital to our nation’s health. We must not allow discrimination to prevent such programs for opening."

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in all activities of state and local government entities, including zoning and land use decisions. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available at the Justice Department Web site at

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 09-387