Settlement Agreement
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Between the United States of America and
Golden Cab Corporation

for Complaint USAO No: 2005-VO-2079/ DJ No. 202-18-208

 


 

THE PARTIES

  1. The parties to this Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”) are the United States of America (“United States”), the Office of the State Attorney, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, and the owner and operator (“Owner/Operator”) of Golden Cab Corporation (“Golden Cab”), located at 2525 Old Okeechobee Road, #1, West Palm Beach, Florida 33405.
  2. The United States Department of Justice (the “United States”) is the federal agency responsible for administering and enforcing title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12188.

BACKGROUND

  1. This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181 - 12189, with the Department against the Owner/Operator of Golden Cab. The complaint was referred to the United States Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice (“the Department”) by the Office of the State Attorney, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida. The complainant is blind and uses a guide dog to assist her with daily life activities. The Complainant alleges that on October 6, 2005 she was refused a taxi ride by Golden Cab because she was accompanied by her service animal. The written Probable Cause Affidavit/Report filed by Corporal Schroder of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, indicates that upon arriving at the complainant’s home at 5671 Lincoln Circle, Lake Worth, Florida, Golden Cab’s driver, Jose Bonilla, reportedly told Complainant that his cab was not properly equipped to transport a service animal, but that he would call another cab equipped accordingly to transport the complainant to her planned destination. However, the report further indicates that Mr. Bonilla indicated that the Complainant refused to have another cab respond. The investigation substantiated the allegation and determined that the failure by Golden Cab to provide service to the Complainant violated the ADA.
  2. The ADA prohibits private entities primarily engaged in the business of transporting people from discriminating against any individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of specified transportation services, including transportation services provided by taxicabs. 42 U.S.C.§ 12184(a); 49 C.F.R. § 37.5(f); 49 C.F.R. § 37.29. The ADA also requires that such entities make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures to permit the use of service animals by people with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. § 12184(b)(2)(A); 49 C.F.R. §§ 37.5, 37.21, 37.29, and 37.167(d).

JURISDICTION

  1. Golden Cab is primarily engaged in the business of transporting people and its operations affect commerce. 42 U.S.C. § 12184(a). Golden Cab provides specified public transportation services within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181(10);§ 12184(a); 49 C.F.R. § 37.3.
  2. The Attorney General of the United States (“Attorney General”) is authorized under section 308 of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12188, to investigate complaints and 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.
  3. The parties have determined that Department of Justice complaint 202-18-208 filed with the United States can be resolved without litigation pursuant to the terms of this Agreement.
  4. Golden Cab agrees to modify its policies and practices, as outlined in this Agreement, to ensure that individuals who use service animals have an opportunity to receive the services provided by Golden Cab that is equal to that of other individuals.
  5. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, the United States agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or filing a civil suit in this matter regarding the areas covered under the Remedial Action section of this Agreement, except as provided in the Enforcement and Implementation sections of the Agreement.

REMEDIAL ACTION

  1. Consistent with title III of the ADA, Golden Cab will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of Golden Cab by excluding or providing unequal treatment to persons with disabilities who use service animals. 42 U.S.C §,12184; 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.201, 36.202; 49 C.F.R. §§ 37.5, 37.21, 37.29. Specifically, Golden Cab also will make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures that are necessary to afford goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities, including those who use service animals. 42 U.S.C. §12184(b)(2)(A); 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.302(a), (c); 49 C.F.R. §§ 37.5, 37.21, 37.29.
  2. Service Animal Policy: Within ten (10) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Golden Cab shall adopt a written policy (the “Service Animal Policy”) indicating that all persons with disabilities, including those accompanied by service animals, are welcome in all vehicles dispatched by Golden Cab. The policy will provide that a driver dispatched by Golden Cab may not refuse to transport a person with a disability because that person is accompanied by a service animal. The policy will also provide that a person with a disability will not be asked or required to pay any extra fee or charge or comply with any additional condition of service because they are accompanied by a service animal even if an extra fee or charge or condition of service is required for the transportation of a pet. The Owner/Operator will maintain and enforce the Service Animal Policy throughout the term of this Agreement. A copy of the Service Animal Policy is attached hereto as Attachment A.
  3. Distribution of Service Animal Policy: Within ten (10) days of the date on which the Owner/Operator Golden Cab adopts the Service Animal Policy, Golden Cab shall distribute the Policy to all reservation call-takers, dispatchers, taxi drivers dispatched by Golden Cab, and other employees or contractors whose duties involve contact with Golden Cab’s customers. Golden Cab shall ensure that all new reservation call-takers, dispatchers, taxi drivers, and other employees or contractors whose duties involve customer contact receive a copy of the Service Animal Policy within two (2) days of beginning service with Golden Cab. Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Golden Cab will provide the United States with proof of the adoption and distribution of this Service Animal Policy.
  4. Training: Golden Cab shall train all present and future reservation call-takers, dispatchers, taxi drivers dispatched by Golden Cab, individuals using vehicles owned or leased by Golden Cab to provide transportation services, and employees and contractors whose duties involve customer contact to ensure that all people with disabilities, including those with service animals, are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner and are afforded the same service and courtesy as that afforded to other customers, consistent with the Service Animal Policy. Golden Cab shall provide its training materials to the Department for review prior to providing the training. All current call-takers, dispatchers, taxi drivers and others required to be trained pursuant to this paragraph shall be trained within sixty (60) days of the effective date of this Agreement. All future call-takers, dispatchers, taxi drivers and others required to be trained pursuant to this paragraph shall be trained within two (2) days of beginning service with Golden Cab or within sixty (60) days of the effective date of this Agreement, whichever is later.
  5. Signs: Within twenty (20) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Golden Cab shall require all drivers dispatched by Golden Cab and all individuals using vehicles owned or leased by Golden Cab to provide transportation services to post the following notice, printed in 26 point font or larger, in a location on the inside or outside of each taxi where it can readily be seen by potential passengers standing outside the taxi:

                 “Persons with disabilities accompanied by service animals are welcome in Golden Cabs.” (Attached hereto as Attachment B)

    Notices will remain posted in Golden Cab’s taxis and readily visible to potential passengers throughout the term of this Agreement and will be replaced if damaged. All new drivers dispatched by Golden Cab and all new individuals using vehicles owned or leased by Golden Cab to provide transportation services will be required to comply with this requirement of posting and maintaining notice within two days of beginning service with Golden Cab or beginning to use Golden Cab vehicles to provide transportation.
  6. Incorporation of Service Animal Policy into Drivers’ Contracts: Beginning ten days after the effective date of this Agreement, Golden Cab will require compliance with the Service Animal Policy as a term of any new, amended, or renewed contract with any person who is dispatched by Golden Cab and/or any person who uses a vehicle owned or leased by Golden Cab to provide transportation services.
  7. Golden Cab will promptly investigate each oral or written complaint it receives alleging inappropriate treatment of a person with a disability accompanied by a service animal. Golden Cab shall respond in writing to each individual who makes an oral or written complaint as described in the previous sentence within seven (7) days of the date that the complaint is received. In each instance where the facts show that one of Golden Cab’s agents, employees, or contractors or any individual using a vehicle owned by Golden Cab to provide transportation services violated the Service Animal Policy, Golden Cab will impose a sanction as set out in paragraph 17.
  8. Sanctions: Golden Cab will impose sanctions for violation of the Service Animal Policy in a manner consistent with its enforcement of violations of other important Golden Cab policies by call-takers, dispatchers taxi drivers and other individuals who use vehicles owned or leased by Golden Cab to provide transportation services (i.e., for a taxi driver’s first offense, turning off the meter for at least one day and continuing until the driver agrees to comply with the Service Animal Policy, prompt termination of contract for second offense).
  9. Throughout the term of this Agreement, Golden Cab will maintain records of the complaints received, investigations, and sanctions imposed, which shall be available for review by the United States if requested.
  10. Six months after the effective date of this Agreement, and every six months thereafter until the Agreement expires, Golden Cab will submit a report to the United States briefly describing each complaint it has received alleging inappropriate treatment of a person with a disability accompanied by a service animal, describing the actions taken in response to each complaint, and if no action was taken, the reason why action was determined to be inappropriate.

MONETARY RELIEF FOR COMPLAINANT

  1. The ADA authorizes the Attorney General to seek a court award of compensatory damages on behalf of individuals aggrieved as the result of violations of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(B); 28 C.F.R. § 36.504(a)(2). Within ten (10) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Golden Cab will compensate the complainant in this matter by sending her a certified check in the amount of ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($1000.00), via certified mail to the address provided by the United States. Golden Cab will simultaneously send a copy of the check and the accompanying letter to counsel for the United States.
  2. In consideration for the compensatory damages set forth above, the United States agrees that within ten (10) days of its receipt of the Agreement signed by an authorized representative of Golden Cab, it will obtain the complainant’s signature on the Waiver and Release of Claim form attached hereto as “Waiver and Release of Claims.” (Attached hereto as Attachment C.) The Department will mail the original copy of the signed Waiver and Release of Claim form to Golden Cab within fifteen (15) days of the Department’s receipt of same.
  3. Golden Cab will not retaliate against the complainant for filing a complaint with the Department or otherwise exercising rights protected by the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a).
  4. The ADA also authorizes the United States Attorney General to seek a civil penalty as a result of violations of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(C); 28 C.F.R. § 36.504(a)(3). Within ten (10) days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Owner/Operator will issue and deliver to counsel for the United States a check or money order in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000) payable to the United States Treasury as payment in the public interest.

ENFORCEMENT

  1. If at any time Golden Cab desires to modify any portion of this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, it will promptly notify the United States in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written Agreement by the United States to the proposed modification, the proposed modification will not take effect. These actions must receive the prior written approval of the United States, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld or delayed.
  2. The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the United States believes that this Agreement or any of its requirements have been violated, it may institute a civil action in Federal District Court to enforce this Agreement or the requirements of title III, following written notice to Golden Cab of possible violations and a period of 30 days in which the Golden Cab has the opportunity to cure the alleged violations.
  3. For purposes of the immediately preceding paragraph, it is a violation of this Agreement for Golden Cab to fail to comply in a timely manner with any of its requirements without obtaining sufficient advance written Agreement with the United States for an extension of the relevant time frame imposed by the Agreement.
  4. Failure by the United States to enforce this entire Agreement or any of its provisions or deadlines shall not be construed as a waiver of the United States’ right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  5. This Agreement shall be binding on Golden Cab, its agents, employees and contractors. In the event Golden Cab seeks to transfer or assign all or part of its interest in any facility covered by this Agreement, and the successor or assignee intends on carrying on the same or similar use of the facility, as a condition of sale Golden Cab shall obtain the written accession of the successor or assignee to any obligations remaining under this Agreement for the remaining term of this Agreement.

IMPLEMENTATION

  1. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
  2. This Agreement, including Attachments A, B, and C, 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, will be enforceable under its provisions.
  3. This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth above and does not purport to remedy or resolve any other existing or potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law.
  4. This Agreement does not affect Golden Cab’s continuing responsibility to comply with all applicable aspects of title III of the ADA. In particular, title III imposes an obligation to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, when the modifications are necessary to afford goods, services, and facilities to individuals with disabilities.
  5. A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by Golden Cab or the United States on request.
  6. This Agreement will remain in effect for three (3) years from the effective date of this Agreement
  7. The person signing this document for Golden Cab represents that he/she is authorized to bind Golden Cab to this Agreement.


    FOR THE RESPONDENT:GOLDEN CAB CORPORATION

    FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


    By: ___________________________

    RENA J. COMISAC
    ACTING ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
    CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION


    Date:         1-4-2008         


    R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
    UNITED STATES ATTORNEY


     

    By: ___________________________________
    Veronica Harrell-James
    Assistant United States Attorney
    99 N.E. 4th Street, 3rd Floor
    Miami, Florida 33132
    Tel. No.: (305) 961-9327



     

    Date          2 - 21- 08         


     

    OFFICE OF THE STATE ATTORNEY
    15TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF FLORIDA

    BARRY E. KRISCHER
    STATE ATTORNEY

    By: _________________________________
    Renelda E. Mack
    Assistant State Attorney
    401 N. Dixie Highway
    West Palm Beach, Florida 33401-4209
    Tel. No.: (561) 355-7242

    Date          8 Feb 2008         


 

 

 

ATTACHMENT A

GOLDEN CAB CORPORATION
POLICY REGARDING SERVICE ANIMALS FOR CUSTOMERS WITH DISABILITIES

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Golden Cab is committed to providing taxi transportation services for customers with disabilities, including those individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by service animals. Service animals play an important role in ensuring the independence of people with disabilities. It is, therefore, our policy to welcome any animal that is individually trained to assist a person with a disability in our taxicabs.

What is a Service Animal?

Service animals are trained to provide assistance to persons with disabilities. Service animals, which are often but not always dogs, come in all breeds and sizes. They may be trained either by an organization or by an individual with a disability, need not be certified or licensed, and provide a wide range of services that may or may not be identifiable, including but not limited to: (1) assisting persons with mobility disabilities by balancing, carrying, and recovering dropped or mislaid belongings, as well as other functions; (2) assisting people who are deaf of hard of hearing by alerting them to sounds, obstacles, and the presence of others; (3) assisting people who are blind or have low vision by alerting them to danger, guiding them, and performing other related functions; and (4) assisting people susceptible to seizures by alerting them to the onset of a seizure, cushioning their fall, reviving them, keeping other people at a safe distance, and mitigating any possible injury.

Golden Cab’s Requirements with Regard to Service Animals

If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability and what service the animal is trained to perform. However, you must not ask a customer with a disability for proof of his or her disability or for any information about his or her disability, nor may you require proof or certification of the animal’s training or vaccination. Service animals do not always have a sign or symbol indicating they are service animals. It is Golden Cab’s policy that its agents, employees, and contractors, including but not limited to its call-takers, dispatchers, and drivers:

In addition, taxicab drivers must not refuse to stop and transport one or more individuals with disabilities accompanied by service animal(s) who are signaling passing taxicabs if the taxi is on duty and available to provide transportation services.

For customers or potential customers who are blind or have low vision, drivers must orally alert such individuals that the taxi has arrived if asked to do so or if it is apparent that the individual does not see that the taxi has arrived.

Direct Threats to Health or Safety

In the event that a particular service animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, Golden Cab has the right to exclude the animal from its taxicab at that time, but may not refuse service to that individual with a disability when he or she is not accompanied by a service animal. Moreover, Golden Cab will not deny transportation to a person with a disability accompanied by a service animal based on fear of animals or a specific type of animal even if such fear is based on past experience with other animals. Each situation will be considered individually.

All decisions to refuse to transport a service animal require consultation with the owner of Golden Cab, or if he is unavailable, the senior manager on duty at the time of the occurrence.

Customer Complaints and Questions About Policy

Please handle any customer inquiries or complaints about this policy in accordance with our usual procedures by contacting the owner of Golden Cab, ____________________.


ATTACHMENT B

Persons with disabilities accompanied by service animals are welcome in Golden Cab’s taxis.

 

 

 

ATTACHMENT C

WAIVER AND RELEASE OF CLAIMS

I, _________________________, hereby agree that in consideration of the terms set forth in the Settlement Agreement between Golden Cab , and the United States, I hereby release Golden Cab, and all of its agents and employees, as well as any affiliated entities, successors and assigns, without limitation from any and all legal claims arising from or related to the facts and circumstances described in the Settlement Agreement resolving Department of Justice complaint number 202-18-208 under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes, but is not limited to, all claims for monetary or equitable relief that I may have under federal, state, or local law. I have been advised that, before signing this release, I have the right to consult a private attorney regarding its contents. I have read this release and understand its contents, and choose to sign it of my own free will and not under duress.

AGREED TO AND SIGNED THIS_________DAY of _________, 2007.

 


 




October 09, 2008