See how we resolved our complaint here: Part 1 and Part 2
It was 23 years ago that President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilties Act into law. We're still trying to implement many of its provisions today.
If you live in the United States, when you find yourself impacted by what appears to be an ADA violation, the first step is not to lawyer up. There are other steps to take before getting to that point.
As they say, the wheels of Justice turn slowly, so be prepared for resolution to take some time.
When you find a potential violation, the first step is to find out who is responsible. It could be a government agency, like a city, or a private business. It could be...as in our case...a private business using a government owned property.
After finding out who is responsible, the next step is to approach them and point out the violation, as politely as possible. A lot of the time, they just don't know and, if they're reasonable, will just fix it. If you don't think you can keep your cool in person, write a letter and send it certified with proof of delivery.
Keep a copy. In fact, keep a record of every step you take in this process. If litigation is required, that will be necessary. If you don't, you can kiss the complaint goodbye.
If you approach the person(s) responsible, tell them, and they still don't comply, write a letter as outlined above.
It would help at this point to be able to point out exactly what section of the law they violated. Be sure to verify that, in fact, what they did is not allowed by searching the relevant laws. The text of the Americans with Disabilities Act is online at Department of Justice's ADA Website.
Wait for an answer. If no answer is forthcoming after a reasonable time, say 6 weeks, or your complaint has been refused, now it the time to report it to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice maitains a website, including a form you can use, explaning how to file a complaint. Send the complaint via a trackable method, such as certified mail, to make sure delivery was recieved. The DOJ can take several months to answer your complaint but they will. The current administration has made enforcement of the ADA a priority. See How To File an ADA Complaint at the DOJ's website.
If the DOJ accepts your complaint, an attorney will contact you, probably from your local U.S. Attorney's Office, and explain the process. You may be called in to give a deposition, you may even be subpoenaed into court room testimony.
If the DOJ rejects your complain, they will say why. If you believe you still have a case, you can hire a private attorney to proceed with your claim. You also have the right to hire a private attorney at any point in the complaint, if you so wish.
Be advised that damages are limited. You will not get a multi-million dollar settlement. Damages are usually limited to fixing the problem, your attorney fees, and maybe a small amount to account for your time and effort in the matter.
Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
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