The Americans with Disabilities Act, the nation’s preeminent civil rights law for providing access and equal opportunity for people with disabilities, was signed into law on July 26, 1990, and the US Attorney’s Office played a critical role in the Department of Justice’s enforcement efforts under this landmark legislation.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act has been critical in protecting the civil rights of all persons with disabilities,” said US Attorney Durham. “The ADA seeks to eliminate disability discrimination in services, programs and activities that most Americans take for granted, but for too long were largely inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. Whether in schools, civic life, or the day-to-day activities and access to goods and services that we all enjoy, the ADA requires that we take necessary steps to ensure access for all. As our office celebrates the 30th anniversary of this important law, we also rededicate ourselves to continue our work in this important area.”
Durham noted that the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut has taken a comprehensive and pragmatic approach to enforce the ADA.
For years, the US Attorney’s Office’s ADA enforcement action and outreach efforts worked to ensure that places of public accommodation were accessible.
The office has settled with numerous Connecticut financial institutions, hotels, restaurants, recreational facilities, transportation companies and other businesses to ensure accessibility for all.
The office also has conducted extensive training and outreach to ensure that places of public accommodation are complying with the mandates of the ADA. For example, in February 2020, the office settled a case with Progressive Insurance Company to ensure equal access for individuals with disabilities at all Progressive Casualty Insurance Company locations across the country.
In 2014, the office launched an Education Working Group to address numerous complaints that educational institutions were discriminating against children with disabilities.
The office subsequently entered into various settlement agreements and letters of resolutions with educational institutions, to protect the rights of people with disabilities, especially children.
Since 2014, the office has settled cases with local and national day care centers, after school programs, elementary and secondary schools, and higher education institutions, to ensure equal access for individuals with disabilities.
Just last month, the office settled a case with Bradford Child Care Services, Inc, a Pennsylvania-based company that owns Tender Care Learning Centers in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, to resolve allegations that Tender Care was not operating in compliance with the ADA because it was discriminating against children with epilepsy.
As part of the Justice Department’s Barrier Free Healthcare Initiative, the US Attorney’s Office conducted extensive outreach on the ADA, and has settled numerous cases with hospitals and other healthcare providers.
These settlements have ensured that individuals with disabilities receive equal access to services, are provided with effective communication, and are not discriminated against because of their use of service animals. In 2019, the office settled with Concentra, a national health care company, to ensure effective communication for deaf and hard of hearing individuals at Concentra’s patient-facing facilities throughout the US.
The US Attorney’s Office continues to work with the State of Connecticut and local governments across the state to ensure equal access for people with disabilities. As part of the Justice Department’s ADA Voting Initiative, the US Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section and Disability Rights Section worked with state and local governments to ensure polling locations in Connecticut had accessible equipment and removed architectural barriers.
The office, through the Justice Department’s ADA Intercity Rail Initiative, worked with Connecticut’s Department of Transportation to resolve allegations that the New London Rail Station has not been accessible to individuals with mobility disabilities, as required by the ADA.
Finally, the office has conducted enforcement actions against housing providers to protect individuals with disabilities and, in recent years, settled two cases against the Bridgeport Housing Authority (BHA). The first settlement addressed allegations that the BHA violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to a woman with disabilities who lived with her children in one of the housing authority’s properties.
The second settlement, which involved both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, resolved allegations that the BHA discriminated against persons with disabilities, in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title II of the ADA, and the FHA, and secured $1.5 million dollars to compensate hundreds of victims.
Over the past 30 years, the US has undertaken the hard work of changing attitudes about disability, tearing down barriers to equality, and dismantling the systems that have historically excluded people with disabilities.
Today, the US Attorney’s Office commemorates the many ways that the ADA has transformed society—by replacing exclusion with access, segregation with integration, and limitations with self-determination.
For more information about the ADA, please visit www.ada.gov, or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY).
To file a complaint with the Justice Department, please visit the Civil Rights Division’s reporting portal at www.civilrights.justice.gov.
Any member of the public who wishes to file a complaint alleging that a business that serves the public, or a public entity, in Connecticut is not accessible to persons with disabilities may also contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 203-821-3700.
As the principal litigator for the United States of America in the District of Connecticut, the United States Attorney prosecutes all criminal and civil cases brought by the Federal government and defends the United States when it is a party in a civil case.
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The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to developing and maintaining strategic partnerships among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure the effective deployment of resources to positively impact the quality of life for all Connecticut residents.