SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

BETWEEN

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

AND

THE TEXAS COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND


re:

reasonable accommodations and employment

 

 

Settlement Agreement | Department of Justice Press Releases

 

 

SETTLEMENT

 

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT 204-75-8

 

1. The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the Texas Commission for the Blind. The United States of America is referred to hereinafter as the "United States" and the Texas Commission for the Blind is referred to as "TCB."

The parties hereby agree as follows:

2. The United States received a complaint of discrimination alleging that TCB committed employment discrimination in violation of title II of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. sections 12131-12134. The United States investigated that complaint and issued a Letter of Findings on May 8, 1997.

3. The ADA applies to TCB because it is a person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. section 12111(5)(a) and an employer within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. section 12111(5)(a) and a public entity within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. section 12131.

4. The United States alleges, and TCB denies, that TCB violated title II of the ADA by:

a. failing to make reasonable accommodations to the known disabilities of individuals, including failing to provide certain employee manuals and information in accessible formats appropriate to the needs of the individuals, and failing to ensure that necessary adaptive equipment was furnished in a timely manner; and

b. subjecting an employee with a disability to harassment on the basis of disability, which created a hostile work environment, and unjustly discharging her from her job.

5. TCB denies that any action that it has taken violates the ADA. This Agreement shall not be construed as an admission of liability by TCB. TCB also agrees that it will abide by all of the requirements of the ADA.

6. The parties have determined that their respective interests can be met without engaging in protracted litigation to resolve this dispute and have therefore voluntarily entered into this Agreement. The United States acknowledges that the concerns raised in its Letter of Findings have been substantially addressed by TCB's prior actions and the actions agreed to in this Agreement.

7. The United States agrees to terminate its investigation of the allegations referenced in the Letter of Findings. Except as provided in paragraph 20, the United States agrees not to pursue litigation against TCB for any claims for damages under the ADA contained in the Letter of Findings and for incidents, if any, that occurred prior to the issuance of the Letter of Findings. This provision shall not be interpreted to restrict the United States from investigating and litigating any complaints referred by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or any complaints received by the United States after the date of this Agreement.

8. TCB previously has voluntarily hired Louis Larralde to a position which is of equal salary and responsibility to his former position with TCB. TCB agrees to fully comply with the nondiscrimination provisions of the ADA in all aspects of Mr. Larralde's employment.

9. TCB previously has designated an ADA Coordinator who shall be responsible for receiving and investigating all complaints of discrimination on the basis of disability in employment at TCB. This ADA Coordinator shall investigate all complaints, advise complainants of their right to promptly file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and maintain all records of its investigations and complaints.

10. For a period of two years from the effective date of this Agreement and on demand by the United States, with a minimum of 30 days written notice, the ADA Coordinator shall make available to the United States all written records of any complaints by any TCB employee of disability discrimination and/or harassment and all employee requests for written accommodations and the disposition of these requests.

11. TCB agrees that any complaint received by the ADA Coordinator that is not resolved to the complainant's satisfaction within 120 days shall be referred to mediation by an independent mediator.

12. TCB agrees to evaluate the need for accommodations of each employee with disabilities within 20 business days of being hired by TCB. In addition, TCB agrees to reassess the need for additional accommodations for any existing TCB employee within 20 business days of request by any employee. TCB agrees to provide immediate loaner equipment (if available) to such employees. TCB shall notify employees that they may request adaptive equipment determined to be necessary at any time after the evaluation.

13. TCB shall complete the requisition process for all equipment identified as necessary and requested by the employee through the process set out in paragraph 12 above, within 20 business days after such equipment is determined to be necessary as a reasonable accommodation and requested by the employee. If, however, loaner equipment is provided on a trial basis for an employee, TCB shall complete the requisition process for the employee's choice of either the loaner equipment or other equipment identified as necessary through the process set out in paragraph 12 above, within 20 business days of the employee's request for such equipment. TCB agrees to acquire such equipment through the most time-efficient means permitted under state procurement laws and regulations.

14. TCB shall provide training to all employees in all TCB offices concerning the rights and needs of persons with disabilities (including persons with visual impairments). This training shall be provided by an organization with recognized expertise in these issues. The parties anticipate that this training shall be substantially completed by the end of the next fiscal year following the effective date of this Agreement.

15. TCB is providing and shall continue to provide all printed matter published or produced by TCB in alternative formats (large print, braille, or computer disk) upon request by an employee. In addition, TCB shall make all employee manuals, training materials, and other publications published or produced by TCB available in these three alternative formats. In addition, TCB agrees to place copies of all manuals on TCB's intranet as soon as practicable. For materials not published or produced by TCB, TCB shall make a good faith effort as soon as practicable to provide such materials in an alternative format upon request.

16. TCB agrees to advise all current and future employees of their rights and responsibilities under this Agreement.

17. On or before 30 days following the effective date of this Agreement, TCB will offer to pay $50,000.00 to Joanna States as compensatory damages for any losses sustained as a result of TCB's alleged actions. TCB or its counsel will send a copy of this Agreement, a letter in the form of Exhibit 1, and a Release of Claims form (Exhibit 3) to Ms. States. If Ms. States, for any reason, fails to accept this offer within 30 days of receipt, this offer will become null and void. The failure of Ms. States to accept this offer does not affect any other term of this Agreement.

18. On or before 30 days following the effective date of this Agreement, TCB will offer to pay $5,000.00 to Sharon Fernandez as compensatory damages for any losses sustained as a result of TCB's alleged actions. TCB or its counsel will send a copy of this Agreement, a letter in the form of Exhibit 2, and a Release of Claims form (Exhibit 3) to Ms. Fernandez. If Ms. Fernandez, for any reason, fails to accept this offer within 30 days of receipt, this offer will become null and void. The failure of Ms. Fernandez to accept this offer does not affect any other term of this Agreement.

19. TCB will send the undersigned counsel for the United States a copy of the materials sent to Ms. Fernandez and Ms. States when they are sent to Ms. Fernandez and Ms. States. If either or both persons accept TCB's offer, TCB will pay the person or persons accepting its offer within 30 days of its receipt of a signed Release of Claims form (Exhibit 3). Should either or both persons accept TCB's offer, TCB will provide proof of payment (copies of the check(s) and transmittal letter(s)), together with copies of the completed Release of Claims forms, within 30 days of the payment to the undersigned counsel for the United States.

20. The United States may institute a civil action in the appropriate U.S. District Court, if the United States believes that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated. If the United States believes that this Agreement or any portion of it has been violated, it will raise its concern(s) with TCB and the parties will attempt to resolve the concern(s) in good faith. The United States will give TCB 21 days from the date it notifies TCB of any breach of this Agreement to cure that breach, prior to instituting a civil action. If this Agreement is declared void or unenforceable, the United States may commence litigation under the ADA.

21. Failure by the United States to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of its right to do so with regard to other provisions of this Agreement.

22. A signatory to this document in a representative capacity for either party represents that he or she is authorized to bind that party to this Agreement.

23. This Agreement is a public document and constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein. Copies of this Agreement shall be made available to any person by the United States upon request or by TCB upon written request.

24. The United States acknowledges that this Agreement is subject to the approval of the Attorney General of Texas. TCB shall use its best efforts to secure the approval of the Attorney General of Texas and of any other party necessary to complete this Agreement. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below, and upon that signature, this Agreement shall be effective and binding on the parties.

 

For the United States:

Bill Lann Lee
Acting Assistant Attorney General

 

By:___________________________ Date:_________________________

John L. Wodatch, Chief
L. Irene Bowen, Deputy Chief
Ken S. Nakata, Trial Attorney

Edward Miller, Trial Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
1425 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005


For the Texas Commission for the Blind

 

BY: __________________________ DATE:__________________________

 

Terrell I. Murphy
Executive Director
Texas Commission for the Blind

 

For the Attorney General of Texas:

 

BY: __________________________DATE:__________________________

Joe H. Thrash, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General

 

 

 

red divider line

 

EXHIBIT 1

 

NOTICE LETTER

 

[Date]

Joanna States
17 Spring Street Extension
Jamestown, NY 14701

 

Dear Ms. States:

A Settlement Agreement has been entered between the United States and the Texas Commission for the Blind ("TCB"). Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement on [date], you are being offered a monetary award. A copy of the Settlement Agreement is enclosed. Please review it carefully.

As a monetary award, you are being offered $50,000.00. To receive your monetary award you must complete the attached "Release of all Claims" form and RETURN IT WITHIN 30 DAYS of your receipt of this letter to the following address:

 

_____________

Texas Commission for the Blind

address

If you have any questions concerning this settlement, you may contact Ken Nakata at (202) 307-2232 or Edward Miller at (202) 514-3422, the attorneys for the United States Department of Justice.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

___________________________

 

 

Enclosures

 

red divider line

 

Exhibit 2

 

NOTICE LETTER

 

[Date]

 

Sharon Fernandez
121 Agnes
San Antonio, TX 78212
 

Dear Ms. Fernandez:

 

A Settlement Agreement has been entered between the United States and the Texas Commission for the Blind ("TCB"). Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement on [date], you are being offered a monetary award. A copy of the Settlement Agreement is enclosed. Please review it carefully.

As a monetary award, you are being offered $5,000.00. To receive your monetary award you must complete the attached "Release of all Claims" form and RETURN IT WITHIN 30 DAYS of your receipt of this letter to the following address:

 

_____________

Texas Commission for the Blind

address

 

If you have any questions concerning this settlement, you may contact Ken Nakata at (202) 307-2232 or Edward Miller at (202) 514-3422, the attorneys for the United States Department of Justice

 

Sincerely,

 

___________________________

 

 

Enclosures

 

 
 

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February 7, 2001