U.S. Attorney Announces ADA Restaurant Initiative
BOISE – The Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho is reviewing restaurants in both Coeur d’Alene and Nampa to ensure that they provide the access required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”), U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. The review stems from the Department of Justice’s congressionally-mandated responsibility to ensure compliance with the ADA and is not in response to any specific complaint against a restaurant.
Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by the owners and operators of places of public accommodation, which include restaurants. The ADA thus authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice to review restaurants. The ADA requires restaurants to be “designed, constructed and altered in compliance with the accessibility standards established” by the ADA’s implementing regulations.
As part of the review, restaurant owners are first asked to complete a survey regarding their restaurants’ accessibility. Investigators may then visit restaurants to evaluate ADA compliance. If the site visits reveal noncompliance, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will notify the owners and operators. The Department of Justice generally pursues voluntary compliance measures first. It may, however, commence a civil lawsuit in federal court if necessary. It does so, for example, in cases that involve a pattern or practice of discrimination or that raise issues of general public importance.
“People with disabilities who visit, work, or live in Coeur d’Alene and Nampa deserve to have an equal opportunity to enjoy restaurants in these cities, as the ADA requires,” said Olson. “Our goal is to work with restaurant owners to bring them into compliance, so that all their potential patrons have access.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho enforces federal civil rights laws, including the Fair Housing Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Civil remedies under these statutes include monetary penalties, injunctions, civil judgments and more.