The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement with the operators of Pikes Peak Wrestling League, a youth wrestling league that serves approximately 4,000 children across the state of Colorado, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The settlement resolves allegations that Pikes Peak Youth Sports Association LLC and Peak Youth Sports Association violated the ADA by failing to modify their policies, practices or procedures to allow a child who has dwarfism to “play down” one age division at the 2014 Colorado State Wrestling Championship so that he could compete with wrestlers closer to his weight and size. The agreement was filed today as a proposed consent decree, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, along with a complaint.
Under the agreement, the wrestling league will adopt and publicize a disability nondiscrimination policy, including procedures for handling requests to modify policies for wrestlers with disabilities. The league will train employees on ADA requirements and invite coaches affiliated with Pikes Peak Wrestling League and USA Wrestling Directors to attend this training, free of charge. In addition, the wrestling league will pay compensatory damages to the child identified in the complaint and report to the department on its compliance with the agreement.
“Participating in athletic competition is a formative experience for children across this country, and children with disabilities are entitled to participate equally in youth sports,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “The ADA celebrated its 25th anniversary this year and private entities that operate youth athletics should be well aware of their obligations under the ADA.”
Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations, including youth sports leagues like Pikes Peak Wrestling League, to reasonably modify their policies, practices or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford their goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations to individuals with disabilities and when such modifications would not fundamentally alter the nature of their goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations. For more information about the ADA, call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov.
The relevant court documents can be found at the following links: complaint and consent decree.