United States Attorney Announces Americans with Disabilities Act Restaurant Initiative
COLUMBIA— United States Attorney Beth Drake announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is reviewing selected restaurants in Greenville to ensure that the restaurants provide the access required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”). The review stems from the Department of Justice’s Congressionally-mandated responsibility to ensure compliance with the ADA.
Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by the owners and operators of places of public accommodation, which include restaurants, hotels, theatres, and other establishments. The ADA requires that these facilities be “designed, constructed, and altered in compliance with the accessibility standards established” by the ADA’s implementing regulations. The ADA also requires the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate places of public accommodation and undertake periodic review of compliance with the ADA, and to bring civil enforcement actions to obtain compliance and penalties as appropriate.
As part of this review, restaurant owners are first asked to complete a survey regarding the restaurant’s accessibility. A Department of Justice investigator may then visit the selected restaurants to evaluate ADA compliance. If the site visit reveals ADA 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.
U.S. Attorney Drake noted that, “The ADA secures for people with disabilities access to our communities and the services that will allow them like every other American to reach their potential and be a contributing member of our society. Imagine, if you will, what life would be like if you could not get into a grocery store or a school or government office, or in this case, eat at a restaurant.” Drake added that the ADA is a critical tool in ensuring that people living with disabilities have access to our communities. “We look forward to working with our restaurants. If any restaurants are noncompliant, we will work with them to bring them into compliance, so that the entire community can enjoy their facilities.”
This initiative continues the U.S. Attorney’s Office and DOJ’s long commitment to enforcing the ADA, including: an agreement with the Richland County Election Board to ensure that Polling Places are ADA compliant; an agreement with the City of Columbia Police Department regarding treatment of arrestees who are deaf, and several ADA agreements with South Carolina municipalities as part of the DOJ project civic access.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina 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.
To learn more about the ADA and other laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities, log on to www.ada.gov/ta-pubs-pg2.htm or call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD). The U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Program webpages are located at https://www.justice.gov/usao-sc/civil-rights.