Individuals with disabilities unfortunately continue to face barriers in access in our community. No matter how hard we fight for access at the community level, sometimes it is not enough to influence the government and private agencies to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Justice has made it easier to file claims against state, local government, or public accommodation, including private businesses who continue to discriminate against individuals with disabilities, by failing to provide appropriate access and/or reasonable accommodations. When you file a claim with the Department of Justice, your complaint goes to the Disability Rights Section for processing and review.
A. To file an Americans with Disabilities complaint online visit: https://www.ada.gov/complaint
B. To file an Americans with Disabilities complaint by mail, send the completed complaint form to:
C. U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
Washington, D.C. 20530
D. To file an Americans with Disabilities complaint by facsimile, send the completed complaint form to: (202) 307-1197
1. What information should my ADA complaint include?
Provide the following information:
• Your full name, address, the telephone numbers where we can reach you during the day and evening, and the name of the party discriminated against (if known);
• The name and address of the business, organization, institution, or person that you believe has committed the discrimination;
• A brief description of the acts of discrimination, the dates they occurred, and the names of individuals involved;
• Other information you believe necessary to support your complaint, including copies (not originals) of relevant documents; and
• Information about how to communicate with you effectively. Please let us know if you want written communications in a specific format (e.g., large print, Braille, electronic documents) or require communications by video phone or TTY.
You may use the ADA online complaint form for any ADA complaint, but you are not required to do so.
2. What accommodations may I request if I cannot prepare my own ADA complaint because of my disability?
• If you are unable to write because of your disability and are unable to submit a complaint online, by mail, or facsimile, the Department can assist you by scribing your complaint by phone or, for individuals who communicate by American Sign Language, by videophone.
• Contact the ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY) to schedule an appointment. Please be advised that it may take two weeks or more for department staff to contact you.
3. What happens after my complaint is received?
After the complaint is received and reviewed, we will inform you of our action, which may include:
• Contacting you for additional information or copies of relevant documents;
• Referring your complaint for possible resolution through the ADA Mediation Program;
• Referring your complaint to the United States Attorney’s Office in your area for investigation;
• Referring your complaint to another federal agency with responsibility for the types of issues you have raised.
• Investigating your complaint; or
• Considering your complaint for possible litigation by the Department of Justice.
We cannot investigate or litigate every complaint. If we are unable to take any action on your complaint, we will send you a letter telling you this.
4. How can I find out the status of my complaint?
We review each complaint carefully. Because we receive a large volume of ADA complaints from people throughout the United States, our review can take up to three months. If you have not heard from us by the end of this three-month period, you can find out the status of your complaint by calling the ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY). A member of our staff will contact you to tell you if your complaint has been received and if it is still under consideration for possible action.
5. What happens if my complaint is referred for possible mediation?
The ADA Mediation Program is an important part of ADA compliance. Using professional ADA-trained mediators throughout the United States, mediation is a confidential, voluntary way to resolve ADA complaints fairly and quickly. Types of complaints most appropriate for this program include barrier removal, program accessibility, effective communication, and modification of policies, practices, and procedures. If we determine that your complaint is appropriate for mediation, we will contact you and the entity you complained about to find out if you are both willing to participate in mediation.
6. What happens if my complaint is opened for investigation?
If your complaint is opened for investigation, an investigator or attorney will be assigned and will contact you to obtain additional information. During the investigation, the attorney or investigator will not necessarily make a determination about whether or not an ADA violation has occurred. If he or she believes there is a pattern or practice of discrimination or the complaint raises an issue of general public importance, DRS may attempt to negotiate a formal settlement of the matter, or may file a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the Unites States. We do not act as an attorney for, or representative of, the complainant.
7. How will the information in my complaint be used?
This information collection is for the purpose of allowing the Department of Justice’s Disability Rights Section to engage in authorized civil rights compliance and enforcement activities. Providing the information is voluntary, except that failure to provide such information may result in DRS being unable to process your complaint. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, authorize the solicitation of the information for this form. DRS will not disclose your name or other identifying information about you unless it is necessary for enforcement activities against an entity alleged to have violated federal law, required to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, disclosure is permitted pursuant to the Privacy Act, or is otherwise required by law.
For more information or questions visit https://www.ada.gov/filing_complaint.htm or call the ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-800-514-0383. ADA Specialists are available to answer questions on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30am to 5:30pm (Eastern Time). On Thursday, the Information Line is staffed from 12:30pm to 5:30pm (Eastern Time).
If you need further assistance in regards to filing a DOJ claim, information about the Americans with Disabilities Act, and accessibility, contact the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems, Inc. at (670) 235-7273/4 or visit us on the web at www.nmpasi.org, www.facebook.com/NMPASI, and follow us on Instagram @nmpasi670.
Dawn Margaret Sablan (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Dawn Margaret Sarmiento Sablan is a projects specialist at the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems, Inc.