Justice Department Settles Disability Discrimination Claims Against 19 Building Owners
The Justice Department today announced that it reached a single agreement with 19 building owners* who rent space in their buildings to stores and restaurants.
The agreement requires the owners to fix their buildings so that people with mobility disabilities, like wheelchair users, can get in the door to shop or eat. Physical barriers, like steps at an entrance, can keep people with disabilities out and cause discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Justice Department inspected three buildings on 14th Street N.W., in Washington, D.C., to see if people with disabilities could enter the businesses renting space there. Two of the buildings had steps at the entrances and one did not have enough space at the entrance for wheelchair users to open the door and go in on their own.
The building owners agreed to hire an architect to check their 19 buildings in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to make sure the buildings can be used by people with disabilities. The owners agreed to fix any problems by the end of next year. Possible fixes are adding a ramp where there are steps or putting in an automatic door opener when there is not enough space for wheelchair users. Fixing the buildings is an important step toward providing people with mobility disabilities an equal opportunity to shop and dine at the stores and restaurants inside.
The ADA requires stores and restaurants located in new buildings to make sure the spaces their customers use in those buildings are useable by people with disabilities, such as those who use wheelchairs. If a business is located in an older building, the business must make sure barriers to people with disabilities are removed when it is easy to do. And if a business makes changes to a building, those changed areas must be made useable as much as possible. These rules also apply to the companies that own the buildings that they rent to businesses like stores and restaurants.
“Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 to stop discrimination against people with disabilities caused by the way a building is designed, built, or changed,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Today’s agreement calls attention to the obligations of building owners to ensure that the space they rent to a store or restaurant follows the rules of the ADA. We welcome the owners’ cooperation with us in today’s agreement to make their buildings more usable for people with disabilities.”
This matter was handled by the Disability Rights Section of the department’s Civil Rights Division. The Justice Department plays a central role in advancing the nation’s goal of equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt. For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov.
*The 19 building owners, all managed by companies that are managed by J.C. Reger Interests Inc., doing business as JCR Companies, are:
- Hillwood SRR 1324 14th Street Investors LLC
- 1526 14th Street Investors LLC
- 1529 14th Street Investors LLC
- 601 King Street Investors LLC
- 1723 Conn Ave Investors LLC
- JCR Silver Hill Investors LLC
- 1519 Wisconsin Ave, Investors LLC
- JCR Pinefield South Investors LLC
- JCR Westview Corner Investors LLC
- 1515 Unit C-3 and C-9 Investors LLC
- JCR Lorton Station Investors LLC
- JCR Rutherford Crossing Investors LLC
- JCR Signal Hill Investors LLC
- JCR 916 G Street Investors LLC
- JCR Bel Air TC Investors LLC
- JCR Woodley Investors LLC
- JCR Krispy Korner Investors LLC
- JCR Innovation Investors LLC
- JCR Riverton Investors LLC