SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1990

BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

AND

BUDGET RENT A CAR SYSTEMS, INC.

 

FOR COMPLAINTS

DJ 202-79-16, 202-79-42, and 202-79-50

 


A. Background

1. This action was initiated by three Complaints filed with the United States Department of Justice ("the Department") against Budget Rent a Car Systems, Inc. ("Budget"). The Complaints were investigated by the Department under the authority granted by Section 308(b) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12188. Two of the Complaints allege that Budget violated the ADA because its policies prohibited persons who are unable to drive due to a disability from renting vehicles even when they were accompanied by licensed drivers. The third Complaint alleges that Budget violated the ADA when its airport shuttle bus driver refused to allow three blind customers accompanied by guide dogs to board the shuttle bus unless the dogs were restrained in kennels.

2. The parties to this Agreement have agreed to forego litigation on the claims presented in these matters and to resolve them as set forth below.

3. The parties to this settlement agreement ("Agreement") are the United States of America and Budget.

 

B. Title III Coverage

4. Budget is a public accommodation as defined in section 301(7)(e) of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12181, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 36.104. In part, the ADA requires public accommodations to make reasonable modifications to their policies and practices as necessary to afford their goods and services to persons with disabilities, as long as doing so does not fundamentally alter the nature of their goods and services, 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii) and 28 C.F.R. § 36.302.

5. The subject of this settlement agreement is the modification of rental policies nationwide by Budget to permit persons who are unable to drive to rent vehicles when they are accompanied by licensed drivers and the modification of policies to provide services to persons with disabilities who use service animals.

6. The Department initiated an investigation of Budget's policy affecting non-driving renters after receiving a Complaint dated October 7, 1992, from a person who has a visual impairment and is unable to drive, alleging that Budget would not allow him to rent a vehicle to be driven by an accompanying licensed driver (Case file DJ 202-79-16). The Department received a similar Complaint on November 12, 1993 (Case file DJ 202-79-42). In November 1995, the Department received a Complaint regarding the treatment of persons with disabilities who are accompanied by service animals (Case file DJ 202-79-50).

7. As described below, Budget has now agreed to modify its policies and procedures. These modifications to Budget's rental policies and procedures are necessary to afford services to individuals with disabilities; the modifications are reasonable and do not fundamentally alter the nature of the services provided by Budget.

 

C. Actions to be taken by Budget

8. In order to afford services to people with disabilities, Budget agrees to nationwide implementation of the following rental policies within 30 days of the date of this agreement.

9. For individuals who are unable to drive due to a physical or mental disability, Budget will not require that the method of payment and driver's license belong to the same individual. All persons who wish to be renters must have the capacity to enter into contracts.

10. Budget may require the authorized driver ("driver") to present a valid driver's license and otherwise meet driver qualification requirements imposed by Budget on its authorized drivers generally, such as minimum age requirements and the customer with a disability ("renter") to present a qualified method of payment and otherwise meet credit qualification requirements imposed by Budget on its renters generally. Renters need not show valid driver's licenses. Budget may require the renter to present some form of photo identification to ensure that he or she is in fact the same person authorized to use a specific method of payment (cash qualification or credit card). Budget may not require the renter to document that he or she has a disability and may not inquire into the nature or severity of the disability. Budget may, however, require the renter to identify himself or herself as a person with a disability in order to qualify for this procedure. The renter must be required to sign the rental contract. Each person who is permitted to drive the vehicle may be required to be present at the time the vehicle is rented, may be required to present a valid driver's license, may be required to sign the rental agreement solely in the capacity as authorized driver or as an additional authorized driver, as applicable, may be required to submit to a driver's license history check, where applicable, and otherwise meet driver qualification requirements imposed by Budget on its authorized drivers generally.

11. Budget shall waive any "additional driver" charges for one person accompanying a renter with a disability that would otherwise apply, and shall not impose any other surcharge on the renter in connection with actions required by this policy.

12. Budget shall allow persons with disabilities the use of service animals under the ADA, including guide dogs, signal dogs, or other animals individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Budget shall not require people with disabilities to provide any type of identification or certification of an animal as having been trained as a service animal. Budget shall not require persons with disabilities to be separated from their service animals at any time.

13. Budget shall make available to those individuals who have vision impairments or who are otherwise unable to read the rental contract at time of rental an alternative means of access to the contract terms (e.g., a live reader).

14. Budget shall inform all employees who have contact with the public of the rental policies as described above, and shall remind all such employees on an annual basis for the four years following the effective date of this Agreement. Budget shall incorporate the policies into all appropriate training manuals and programs for employees.

15. All prospective renters, upon request, shall be advised of Budget's rental policies as described above.

16. Budget shall notify all current Licensees of the U.S. Budget Rent a Car Systems of the rental policies as described above, and shall urge current Licensees to adopt those policies. This notification shall consist of distributing the Announcement that is attached hereto as Exhibit A to all Licensees within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement. Within ten (10) days of the effective date of each such contract, Budget will distribute this Announcement to all new or renewing Licensees entering into licensing contracts with Budget.

17. Budget shall pay $6,000 in total damages to the three complainants as a group who filed DJ 202-79-50. Budget shall not pay damages to the complainants who filed DJ 202-79-16 and DJ 202-79-42.

 

D. Implementation and Enforcement of the Settlement Agreement

18. Under Section 308(b)(1)(B) of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(B), the Attorney General is authorized to bring a civil action under title III in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist or where a matter of general public importance is raised. In consideration of this Agreement as set forth above, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing civil suit under title III in these matters.

19. The Department may review compliance with this agreement within four years of the date of this Agreement. If the Department believes that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action in the Federal district court for the District of Columbia, or any other appropriate federal district court. A violation of this Agreement shall be deemed a violation of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(3) and 28 C.F.R. § 36.504(b). If the United States demonstrates to a court of competent jurisdiction that such violation has occurred, each individual identified by the United States as aggrieved by the violation shall be compensated by Budget in an amount of no less than $5,000. The United States may also seek civil penalties and other appropriate relief as authorized by the ADA.

20. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained herein may be made available to any person. Budget or the Department shall provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.

21. This Agreement shall become effective as of the date of the last signature below. This Agreement shall be binding on Budget and its successors in interest. The owners and operators of Budget have a duty to so notify all such successors in interest.

22. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement shall be enforceable. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other violations of the ADA or any other federal law other than those specifically addressed herein. This Agreement does not affect Budget's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.

23. A signatory to this document in a representative capacity for a partnership, corporation, or other such entity represents that he or she is authorized to bind such partnership, corporation, or other entity to this Agreement.

 

For the United States:

Isabelle Katz Pinzler, Acting Assistant Attorney General

 

 

By:


Date:

John L. Wodatch, Chief

Renee M. Wohlenhaus, Acting Deputy Chief

Mary Lou Mobley, Attorney

Disability Rights Section

Civil Rights Division

U.S. Department of Justice

P.O. Box 66738

Washington, DC 20035-6738

(202) 307-0663

 

 

For Budget Rent a Car Systems, Inc.:

 

 

By:


Date:

John D. Lee, Senior Attorney

Legislative & Government Affairs

4225 Naperville Road

Lisle, IL 60532-3662

(630) 955-7502

 

 



Exhibit A








Announcement

 

On July ___, 1997, Budget Rent a Car Systems, Inc. and the United States Department of Justice entered into a settlement agreement under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. As part of that agreement, Budget is distributing this Announcement to its licensees.

 

Budget has adopted the following policies and strongly urges its licensees to do the same:

 

 

 

 

Copies of the settlement agreement are available from the United States or Budget.

Want more information? The Department of Justice operates a toll-free ADA Information Line to provide technical assistance to persons and businesses having rights and responsibilities under the ADA. Please call:

1-800-514-0301 (voice)

1-800-514-0383 (TDD)

You can also access the Department's ADA web site at:

http:/http://www.ada.gov/index.html

 

EXHIBIT A

 





 

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