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Civil Rights Enforcement Unit

The United States Attorney’s Office vigorously enforces federal civil rights laws in the thirteen counties of the Southern District of Alabama. These laws protect the rights of minorities, of people with disabilities, of service members in our military, and of people who are incarcerated or living in institutions.  They also protect freedom of religion and the right to vote.  The laws include the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA), Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and laws prohibiting patterns and practices of police misconduct. The Civil Rights Enforcement Unit also coordinates with the Criminal Division on criminal civil rights matters, such as hate crimes and policy brutality.  For Recent Enforcement Actions, click here.

Civil Rights Complaints

Our Civil Rights Hotline is available for anyone who may have suffered a violation of their civil rights. The number is 251.415.7104.  Click here for the Civil Rights Pamphlet.

Civil Rights Laws

For more information about the laws we enforce, please click on the following links:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA)
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA)
Fair Housing Act (FHA)
Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE)
Police Misconduct provision of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994
Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA)
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA)
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)
Voting Rights Act (VRA)
Civil Rights Division DAAG Gupta’s Letter to State, County, and Municipal Officials: The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons ActCivil Rights Division DAAG Gupta’s Letter to State, County, and Municipal Officials: The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons ActCivil Rights Division DAAG Gupta’s Letter to State, County, and Municipal Officials: The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons ActCivil Rights Division DAAG Gupta’s Letter to State, County, and Municipal Officials: The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons ActCivil Rights Division DAAG Gupta’s Letter to State, County, and Municipal Officials: The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons ActCivil Rights Division DAAG Gupta’s Letter to State, County, and Municipal Officials: The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons ActCivil Rights Division DAAG Gupta’s Letter to State, County, and Municipal Officials: The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act

Veterans' and Service Members' Rights

ADA for Employers Guide
ADA Requesting Reasonable Accommodation
Alabama Career Center Locations
Alabama Career Centers - Veterans
Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services
Disabled Veteran Employment Rights - DOJ
Disabled Veteran Employment Rights - EEOC
DOJ Service Members Initiative
ESGR and USERRA
Federal Post Card Voting Application
Job Search Tips for People with Disabilities
Protecting the Rights of Service Members
USERRA - Your Rights
PTSD - Accommodating Veterans
USERRA - Frequently Asked Questions
 

Community Outreach

Community outreach is a fundamental part of the Department of Justice’s comprehensive approach to fighting crime and protecting and defending the rights and interests of the residents of the Southern District of Alabama. Community outreach takes many different forms, ranging from Department of Justice driven programs, to public efforts such as community meetings, training and education.  In all of these efforts, the United States Attorney’s goal is to listen, to learn, and to educate, to better achieve the overall mission of the office.  Examples of the office’s participation in outreach efforts can be found below.


If you or your organization would like to discuss having the US Attorney’s Office participate in an event, please contact Patty Beyer, Civil Rights Enforcement Coordinator at Patricia.Beyer@usdoj.gov or by mail or phone at:


Civil Rights Enforcement Coordinator
United States Attorney’s Office
63 S. Royal Street, Suite 600
Mobile, AL 36604
Telephone: 251.441.5845
Facsimile:    251.551.5051

Upcoming Events:

Please check back later for more information about upcoming events.

Recent Events:

November 2016

 Spring Hill College – AUSA Williams-Maynard spoke to a Sociology of Law Class, providing information about our civil rights enforcement program.

Foley High School – AUSA Williams-Maynard served as a guest speaker for the Veterans Day Assemblies hosted by Foley High School, sharing her life story and her reasons for joining the military.

October 2016

Student Success Summit – AUSA Williams-Maynard served on a panel of the Student Success Summit hosted by the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama (Birmingham).  The summit was designed to provide school administrators and other stakeholders with information on school discipline and minorities, to avoid school-to-prison pipelines.  Suntrease served on a panel discussing alternative restorative justice methods as better models for school discipline.

September 2016

League of Municipalities Municipal Law Conference – U. S. Attorney Kenyen Brown presented the results of our Municipal Court Observation and Outreach Project to this conference.  See below, CIVIL RIGHTS PROGRAMS.

August 2016

2016 Intelligence Analysis Sharing:  A Candid Look at Community Policing and DOJ Smart on Crime Initiative – AUSAs Williams-Maynard and Baugh attended this conference on community policing hosted by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee (Chattanooga).  They made presentations about the S.T.Y.L.E. Program, see below, CIVIL RIGHTS PROGRAMS, and about aspects of our re-entry program for ex-offenders.

June 2016

Meeting with LGBT Community Leaders – In the wake of the tragic murders at an Orlando gay nightclub, US Attorney Brown hosted a meeting of local LGBT leaders to express our office’s concern and support.

May 2016

Center for Fair Housing’s Equal Justice Summit – AUSA Wiseman made a presentation on our Municipal Court Observation and Outreach Project to this annual conference of civil rights activists and organizations.

March 2016

Restorative Justice Forums - Our office presented two half-day forums, one in Mobile County, and one in Baldwin County, focusing on ways in which school discipline can disadvantage minority students and create a “school to prison pipeline.”  The program provided school administrators, school resource officers, and other personnel with information on more positive approaches to discipline, such as the restorative justice model, increasingly offered in schools seeking an alternative to “zero tolerance” policies like suspension and expulsion.  Restorative justice tries to nip problems and violence in the bud by forging closer, franker relationships among students, teachers and administrators.  It encourages young people to come up with meaningful reparations for their wrongdoing while challenging them to develop empathy for one another through “talking circles” led by facilitators.  Our office also provided school officials with information on relevant grants.  AUSA Williams-Maynard designed and implemented this program, which was attended by US Attorney Kenyen Brown.

Prodisee Pantry – AUSA Williams-Maynard gave a presentation to local business owners and other ADA stakeholders on service animals at the Prodisee Pantry, a non-profit community ministry providing emergency food and disaster relief. To reach Prodisee Pantry, call (251) 626-1720 or contact them via their website.

January 2016

Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) – AUSA Williams-Maynard served as the guest speaker to MOAA, which consists of active and retired officers of all branches of the armed forces.  She discussed the work of our office, as well as her own role in the military.

Civil Rights Programs

Municipal Court Observation and Outreach Project – From May through August 2016, AUSA Wiseman and Investigator Tim Fuhrman conducted outreach to all 50 of the municipal courts in our 13-county district, personally attending sessions of 32 of those courts.  The goal of the project was to help those courts analyze the practical and constitutional ramifications of their use of fines and fees. The project furthered the efforts of the Department of Justice to ensure constitutional fine, fee and bail practices following its investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department and Municipal Court.  AUSA Wiseman and Investigator Fuhrman interviewed dozens of municipal judges, clerks, prosecutors and other court personnel, as well as defendants and defense attorneys.  As a result, a number of municipal courts in our district are reviewing and revising their procedures and policies.  See, Report.

Successful Tips for Youth on Law Enforcement Encounters (S.T.Y.L.E.)   - In May 2015, the US Attorney’s Office kicked off a new program designed to foster a positive relationship between our youth and law enforcement.  AUSA Williams-Maynard designed and presented the program with law enforcement partners in the district.  The program, which has been adopted nationwide by the FBI, provides high school students with the tools needed for positive encounters with law enforcement.  Young people are also provided with information on filing civil rights complaints.

As of January 2017, our office has presented the S.T.Y.L.E. program to the following high schools in Mobile County: Vigor, Davidson, Theodore, B.C. Rain, and Alma Bryant.  The program was also presented to the Boy Scouts of America Leadership Camp at Camp Tukabatchee, north of Prattville, Alabama. 

In July 2016, the S.T.Y.L.E. program was presented to the Youth Conference of the National Black Prosecutors Association’s 33rd Annual Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.  The S.T.Y.L.E. team also did a presentation to the Conference, reaching black prosecutors nationwide, and providing information on how to start similar programs in their districts.

 Recent Enforcement Actions

 United States v. Old 27 Grill - In April 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office entered into a Settlement Agreement Old 27 Grill, a restaurant in Fairhope, Alabama.  The United States opened its investigation in this matter after receiving complaints that people with mobility disabilities were unable to access the restaurant.  As a result of the settlement, the owner has agreed to add a unisex ADA-compliant bathroom, accessible parking and main entrance, as well as accessible tables and routes throughout the restaurant.
     The owner and operator also adopted policies which require providing dining assistance to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind and deaf-blind, blind, and people with mobility disabilities.  Service dog policies were adopted, and staff have been trained to facilitate the dining experience of persons with disabilities. 

United States v. Dollar General - In January 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office entered into a statewide settlement agreement with Dollar General discount stores to ensure compliance with the ADA as to all of its 693 stores in Alabama.  After receiving complaints about disability access to many south Alabama stores, our office’s investigation revealed a recurring problem with many stores having merchandise, shopping carts, boxes, and other items stored in the common areas of the stores’ exterior and interior spaces. These kinds of obstructions reduced or eliminated accessibility for disabled customers.  To correct these problems, Dollar General has agreed to implement a policy that will prohibit its employees from placing items in areas such as handicap parking spaces and interior access aisles.  The company also has agreed to provide annual training to all of its Alabama employees to ensure that they are knowledgeable about the requirements of the ADA, and it will staff an ADA Coordinator to assist with the handling of complaints and employee training.


United States v. Islanders Restaurant and Bar – In December 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office entered into a settlement agreement with Islanders Restaurant on Dauphin Island to remedy ADA violations.  The United States opened its investigation in this matter after receiving numerous complaints that people with mobility disabilities were unable to access the restaurant.  In 2007 - many years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - the restaurant owner elevated the building on stilts, but did not provide a ramp or lift for persons with disabilities to enter the restaurant. Accessible parking was inadequate, and the bathrooms were inaccessible.

As a result of the US Attorney’s enforcement actions, the restaurant has completed all changes required by the Settlement Agreement and is now completely accessible.  The owner has installed a lift to allow persons with mobility disabilities to enter the restaurant, added accessible parking and remedied access problems with the bathrooms. The owner and operators have also adopted policies which require providing dining assistance to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind and deaf-blind, blind, and people with mobility disabilities.  Service dog policies were adopted and staff have been trained to facilitate the dining experience of persons with disabilities.


United States v. Gambino’s Italian Grill - In December 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office entered into a settlement agreement with Gambino’s Italian Grill in Fairhope, Alabama to remedy ADA violations.  The restaurant owner has already completed all requirements of the Settlement Agreement, including building a new accessible bathroom, providing various interior access ramps, access to the courtyard and improved accessible parking.  U.S. Attorney Kenyen Brown states: “When notified of the federal investigation, Gambino’s owners quickly chose to do the appropriate thing, removing the barriers which prevented persons with disabilities from enjoying their restaurant.  Not only is this required by law, but it’s also great for business.  We commend Gambino’s owners for their decisions and their wise investment.  They have shown they are good corporate neighbors.  With more than 55 million persons with disabilities in our country, the restaurant has the potential for much more business as well.”


Enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 -  In November 2016, as a result of an investigation launched by this U.S. Attorney’s Office, the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, entered into a memorandum of understanding with the State of Alabama and state officials to resolve claims that Alabama failed to provide voter registration opportunities required by Section 5 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), also known as the “motor voter” provision.  Under the agreement, Alabama will fully integrate a voter registration opportunity into all applications for driver’s licenses and other state identification documents, including renewal applications, both in person and online. 

Alabama will also ensure that change of address information submitted for driver’s license purposes will be used to update voters’ address information unless the voter declines to update his or her voter registration.  Alabama will also afford a remedial registration opportunity to all eligible voters who are not currently registered to vote at the address associated with a driver’s license or other identification document.  The Department had previously notified Alabama that litigation had been authorized to enforce Section 5 of the NVRA in light of the Department’s investigation that indicated widespread non-compliance in Alabama with the motor voter provision of the NVRA.

On July 27, 2016, the Department agreed with Alabama and state officials to amend the 2015 memorandum of understanding to briefly extend the time for Alabama’s full compliance with the requirements of the parties’ agreement and Section 5 of the NVRA.  The amendment also requires Alabama to provide the Department with voter registration data related to the State’s program for providing remedial voter registration opportunities.
 

United States v. Carmike Wynnsong and Regal Mobile Stadium 18 - In early 2016, the Civil Rights Enforcement Unit reached a resolution of claims that the Carmike Wynnsong 16 and the Regal Mobile Stadium 18 movie theaters were not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Both theaters agreed to improvements to ensure that people with hearing and visual impairments can fully enjoy an outing to the movie theaters.  Closed caption readers are available at Regal Stadium for those with hearing impairments.  CaptiView equipment (showing subtitles) is available at Carmike, as well as Fidelio headsets which amplify sound.  Staff has been properly trained on operating and using the auxiliary aids provided by their respective establishments, as well as their responsibility to ensure that the equipment is functioning properly.  The services provided to those with disabilities are advertised in a conspicuous location in both theaters.


United States v. Mobile County’s Strickland Youth Center –In September, 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reached a settlement agreement with the Mobile County Commission to retrofit Strickland Youth Center (SYC) so that it can be used by individuals with disabilities.  The aging SYC campus, located at 2315 Costarides Street, Mobile, Alabama, is home to the Juvenile Court Division of the 13th Judicial Circuit, State of Alabama, and the Mobile County Juvenile Detention Facility.  Constructed in 1972, the main building  houses four court rooms, a ninety-five (95) bed youth detention center, juvenile probation services, a twelve (12) bed youth crisis center, health clinic, cafeteria, classrooms, and other court-sponsored programs held weekly for juveniles, their parents and guardians.  Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became effective in 1993, the SYC was never updated, and at the time of settlement, the complex did not have a single accessible toilet room. 

“Ensuring that the Strickland Youth Center, its facilities, programs and services can be used by everyone fulfills a core tenet of the ADA: that the courts must be open to all people, including those with disabilities,” said United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama Kenyen R. Brown.  “We commend the Mobile County Commission’s commitment to make significant changes to bring the SYC into compliance with the ADA.”

 

Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program v. Safety Net Youthcare, Inc. (S.D. Ala. 2014)

On October 14, 2014 the United States filed a Statement of Interest in Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) v. Safety Net Youthcare, Inc., a case in which a residential psychiatric treatment facility for youth denied access to the local protection and advocacy organization. The Statement of Interest expresses the United States' view that facilities must permit the protection agency access to all residents regardless of whether the facility characterizes some residents as having a less serious mental health disorder than others, under the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act.  On December 12, 2014, the U.S. District Court agreed, and ruled in favor of ADAP.
Opinion

 

United States of America v. Employees Retirement Systems of Alabama, Teachers’ Retirement Systems of Alabama, and PCH Hotels and Resorts, Inc. (S.D. Ala. 2014)

On October 1, 2014, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama filed a complaint and consent decree against the owners and operators of the historic Battle House Hotel in Mobile, AL, the Employees and the Teachers Retirement Systems of Alabama (collectively “RSA”) and their wholly owned subsidiary PCH Hotels and Resorts, Inc. (“PCH”) The consent decree was approved immediately by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.  It resolves charges by the United States Attorney’s Office that RSA and PCH violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when they renovated the Battle House Hotel and constructed new facilities for the Hotel.
Consent Decree

The Battle House, a landmark building in downtown Mobile, Alabama, was originally built in 1852.  The current structure, built in 1908, was central to the city’s commercial and social life for decades.  Closed in the early 1970’s, the hotel remained shuttered until it was purchased by RSA in 2002.  During the course of an extensive restoration, RSA added a new parking deck, spa, pool, and fitness center, and constructed the adjacent office building, RSA Battle House Tower (“the Tower’), a portion of which includes hotel rooms.  In addition to requiring RSA and PCH to remedy ADA violations described in the complaint, the consent decree commits them to adopt new policies and procedures and to provide training on the ADA to employees.

 

United States and Cynthia Boyd v. Gulf Shores Apartments and the Mitchell Company, Inc., et al.  (S.D. Ala. 2014)

On May 30, 2014 the United States Attorney reached an agreement with the Mitchell Company, Inc. and Multifamily Management, Inc., owners and managers of the Morgan Trace Apartments in Gulf Shores, AL to resolve claims that the companies discriminated against Cynthia Boyd, a person with disabilities by refusing to grant her request for a first floor apartment and for permission to keep a service animal and by retaliating against her when she eventually filed a complaint with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Morgan Trace receives federal subsidies to provide housing to persons with disabilities.

Under the agreement and consent decree subsequently entered by the District Court, Ms. Boyd received damages, costs and attorney’s fees.  Mitchell Company, Inc., and Multifamily Management, Inc. agreed not to discriminate against persons with disabilities in future, agreed to provide reasonable accommodations, and agreed to federal monitoring for compliance with these policies for a period of three years.

“Discriminating against persons with disabilities violates federal law,” said United States Attorney Kenyen Brown.  “Our office is committed to enforcing this law and providing its full protection to those who live in the Southern District of Alabama.  We applaud Mitchell Company, Inc. and Multifamily Management, Inc. for working cooperatively with our Office to resolve this matter.”  Consent Decree

 

United States v. Ybarra, et al., dba Cotton’s Restaurant (S.D. AL 2013)

On September 17, 2013, the United States Attorney reached an agreement with Cotton’s Restaurant in Orange Beach, AL, resolving an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint from a wheelchair user who could not enter this beachside restaurant elevated on stilts.  The district court entered a consent decree requiring the restaurant to install accessible parking, a chair lift, and completely accessible restrooms.  Dining tables of wheelchair height were placed in “view” locations of the Gulf of Mexico beach and water scenes. The cost of the renovation for the removal of barriers was approximately $250,000.

Additionally, the restaurant policies were adopted to address the needs of persons with mobility disabilities as well as persons who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind, deaf-blind, and policies relevant to service dogs.  Management and Staff received training regarding ADA compliance. The availability of barrier free access and dining will be included in the restaurant’s advertising and website notices. Because the respondent quickly cooperated to remove the barriers to accessibility, no civil monetary penalty was imposed by the Department. The Consent Decree extends for three years and provides regular monitoring by the U. S. Attorney’s Office for compliance.
Cotton's Consent Decree

 

2014 Coastal Restaurant ADA Compliance Initiative – Following up on the Cotton’s case, above, the United States Attorney provided a number of coastal restaurants with ADA surveys to be used as self-assessment tools, and offered technical assistance.  Restaurants choosing to participate in the initiative can review their physical accessibility to customers with mobility disabilities and determine any necessary remedies to barriers to entry. Interested businesses can contact the Civil Rights Enforcement Coordinator for further information.
Restaurant ADA Survey

 

United States v. Pina’s Mobile Home Park, Arthur D. Witherington, Pina Witherington.
This case was brought under the Fair Housing Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, family status or disabilities. The charge of discrimination issued by HUD was that the housing provider had treated families with children below the age of 18 differently. In particular, the housing provider was alleged to have limited families to a maximum of two children and charged an additional monthly fee per child who lived in the mobile home park. The case was prosecuted civilly as a wrongful pattern and practice of housing discrimination. The complainant had three children and believed it was discriminatory to be limited to a certain size family and to be charged extra per child. Pina’s Mobile Home Park paid over $100,000 in damages to nearly 40 families who showed proof they had been overcharged. In addition, a $30,000 civil penalty was paid to the United States as a partial vindication of the public harm done by the housing provider. In addition, all staff who dealt with the public in renting and managing apartments had to be trained in Fair Housing Act rules and requirements. The Consent Decree extends for 4 years and provides regularly monitoring by the U. S. Attorney’s Office for compliance.
Consent Decree

 

Unites States and Jeremiah Stadtlander v. Warren Properties, Inc., et al.
This case was brought under the Fair Housing Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, family status or disabilities. The charge of discrimination issued by HUD was that the housing provider had not made reasonable modifications (changes, revisions) in its policies to allow the complainant to transfer to a ground floor unit. When he applied for an apartment, the complainant was using full leg braces and crutches to get around. Although he said was promised a ground floor unit, he was never provided one and during his stay there he fell on the iron steps, resulting in permanent damage such that he must now use a wheelchair to get around. Warren Properties paid $1,250,000 in damages and costs to settle the case and agreed to sweeping changes to how its 85 properties across the country in 15 states handle their nearly 12,000 rental units when a person with disabilities makes a request for a reasonable accommodation. Warren Properties also hired a specially trained Reasonable Accommodation Facilitator to assist in each request made by a person with disabilities or anyone associated with the care of a person with disabilities. In addition, all staff who dealt with the public in renting and managing apartments had to be trained in Fair Housing Act rules and requirements. The Consent Decree extends for 4 years and provides regularly monitoring by the U. S. Attorney’s Office for compliance.
Consent Decree

 

United States v. Wales West RV Park
This case was filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The RV park had refused to allow the bi-racial infant foster son of a white couple use the swimming pool and other common facilities when they heard that the child had HIV/AIDS. The RV park paid $36,000 in damages and paid a $10,000 penalty to the United States. Non-discrimination policies were required to be adopted, training of personnel and monitoring by the Department of Justice was implemented.
Consent Decree
Amendment to Consent Decree

 

Shanghai Cottage at Fairhope, Inc.
This was a matter brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act when a person with disabilities (blind) who used a service dog to assist him, was denied access to a restaurant in Fairhope, AL. The restaurant agreed to pay $2,500 in civil penalty to the United States to settle the matter. The complainant declined any monetary damages himself, but asked that any money be contributed to Guiding Eyes for the Blind which trains guide dogs. The restaurant also adopted a non-discrimination policy that dealt specifically with persons with disabilities including blindness. Employees were also required to be trained in ADA matters.
Settlement Agreement

 

Dragon City Chinese Buffet
This was a matter brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act when a person with disabilities (blind) who used a service dog to assist her, was denied access to a restaurant in Daphne, AL. The restaurant agreed to pay $2,500 in civil penalty to the United States and $2,500 in damages to the claimant to resolve the matter. The restaurant also adopted a non-discrimination policy that dealt specifically with persons with disabilities including blindness. Employees were also required to be trained in ADA matters. As a result of this second restaurant being charged with discrimination, the United States Attorney has had a service dog policy translated into Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese and is making the policy (which helps instruct and train restaurant and other businesses’ staff in how to work with persons with service dogs) available at no charge in an effort to prevent discrimination on the basis of disabilities from occurring. The polices are listed below:
Settlement Agreement
Policy Regarding Service Animals, 8-10-2012 English Version
Policy Regarding Service Animals, 8-10-2012 Spanish Version
Policy Regarding Service Animals, 8-10-2012 Chinese Translation - Simplified
Policy Regarding Service Animals, 8-10-2012 Chinese Translation - Traditional

Updated November 3, 2017

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