NEWARK, N.J. – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990, and is the nation’s preeminent law for providing access and equal opportunity for people with disabilities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has played a vital role in enforcing the ADA in order to help eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities. U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito today reinforces the Office’s commitment to vigorously enforce the ADA in the years to come.
“The ADA is a landmark civil rights statute that guarantees people with disabilities equal opportunity to fully participate in mainstream life without discriminatory barriers,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “Despite the tremendous progress that has been made in the 30 years since this historic legislation was signed, we still see unlawful barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities from fully participating in many aspects of society. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work tirelessly to shatter those discriminatory barriers.”
Over the past 30 years, our country has worked to change attitudes about disability, remove obstacles to equality, and dismantle the systems that have historically excluded people with disabilities. We commemorate the many ways that the ADA has transformed our society – by replacing exclusion with access, segregation with integration, and limitations with self-determination. The ADA has advanced the promise of the American dream, ensuring that people with disabilities can write their own stories. We are better and stronger because of the contributions that people with disabilities make.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has prioritized enforcing the ADA to vindicate the rights of people with disabilities in several recent matters. These efforts include:
- Ensuring Equal Access to Polling Places. On Aug. 15, 2019, in connection with the Justice Department’s ADA Voting Initiative, the U.S. Attorney entered into comprehensive settlement agreements with the Ocean County Board of Elections and the Union County Board of Elections to ensure that people with mobility disabilities can physically access polling locations so as to not be denied their fundamental right to vote. https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/united-states-reaches-agreements-ocean-county-and-union-county-boards-elections-ensure
- Combatting Discrimination in Childcare Settings. On Nov. 13, 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office settled a lawsuit, resolving allegations that a national daycare provider, Spring Education Inc., discriminated against a 3-year-old girl and her parents when it expelled the child on the basis of her disability and refused to make reasonable modifications to its policies and practices. Under the terms of the settlement, the defendant was required to agree to injunctive remedies, including adopting policies to provide reasonable modifications for children, as well as paying damages to the child and a civil penalty to the United States. https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/us-attorney-s-office-reaches-agreement-nationwide-daycare-provider-ensure-equal-rights
- Providing Equal Access for Children with Disabilities in Youth Activities. On Oct. 11, 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reached an agreement with a gymnastics facility in Bergen County to implement polices to ensure equal access for children with disabilities, as well as damages to the child and her parents and a civil penalty to the United States. https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/us-attorney-s-office-reaches-ada-settlement-gymnastics-facility-ensure-children On April 5, 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s office entered into an agreement with a gymnastics center that excluded a child on the basis of her disability. The agreement required the center to adopt policies and practices to comply with the ADA and pay damages to the child. https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/us-attorney-s-office-reaches-settlement-gymnastics-center-ensure-equal-access-children
- Protecting the Rights of Students with Disabilities. On Feb. 21, 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office entered into an agreement with Rider University that required the university to make reasonable modifications to its policies, practices, and procedures for students with food allergy-related disabilities. https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/us-attorney-s-office-reaches-agreement-rider-university-resolve-allegations-under On Sept. 11, 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office executed a settlement agreement to resolve allegations that the Watchung Hills Regional High School failed to evacuate at least one student with a mobility disability during a school-wide evacuation and failed to implement any policies addressing emergency evacuations of students with disabilities. https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/watchung-hills-high-school-district-agrees-settle-claim-it-violated-americans
- Protecting the Rights of Combat Veterans with Disabilities. On Feb. 6, 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reached a settlement with a charter bus company, Academy Express, LLC, to resolve allegations that the bus company discriminated against a 74-year-old combat veteran with multiple disabilities by denying him accessible transportation on a multi-day tour of historic sites with his fellow combat veterans. The settlement agreement requires the bus company to implement policies to ensure persons with disabilities receive accessible – and timely – transportation, as well as to pay damages to the veteran and a civil penalty to the United States. https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/us-attorney-s-office-reaches-ada-settlement-charter-bus-company-protect-rights-americans
- Ensuring Physical Access to Places of Public Accommodation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has successfully resolved multiple matters to ensure physical access to places of public accommodate to those with mobility disabilities. On Nov. 19, 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reached a settlement with the owner of the historic Paramount Theater in Asbury Park to ensure physical accessibility for people with disabilities. https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/us-atorney-s-office-reaches-ada-settlement-owner-historic-paramount-theater-ensure
- Combatting HIV Discrimination. On Dec. 17, 2019, the U.S. Attorney entered into a settlement with a Middlesex County day care facility to resolve allegations that the facility denied a child admission based on the parent’s disclosure that the child may have a disability – either HIV or Hepatitis. The settlement required the day care to implement policies and procedures to ensure that children with disabilities are afforded full and equal opportunities to participate in its services, as well as to provide damages to the child and his parent. https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/us-attorney-s-office-reaches-ada-settlement-middlesex-county-day-care-facility-over
The Justice Department’s ADA Voting Initiative focuses on protecting the right of individuals with disabilities. A hallmark of the ADA Voting Initiative is its collaboration with jurisdictions to increase accessibility at polling places. The Department of Justice has surveyed more than 2,200 polling places and increased polling place accessibility in more than 35 jurisdictions, including in Ocean County and Union County, New Jersey.
For more information about the 30th Anniversary of the ADA, please visit www.ada.gov. More information about the U.S. Attorney’s Civil Rights Unit and its enforcement efforts is available at https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/civil-rights-enforcement
Individuals who believe they may have been victims of discrimination may file a complaint with the U.S Attorney’s Office at https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/civil-rights-enforcement/complaint.