SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND
CLAREMORE VFW POST AND AUXILIARY 2976
D.J. No. 202-59N-58

I. INTRODUCTION

  1. The parties to this Settlement Agreement are the United States of America and the Claremore VFW Post and Auxiliary 2976 (“Claremore VFW” or “VFW 2976”), located at 1717 West DuPont, Claremore, Oklahoma 74017.
  2. The United States Department of Justice (the “Department”) is responsible for enforcing title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, as amended, and the relevant regulations implementing title III, 28 C.F.R. pt. 36.
  3. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.  42 U.S.C. § 12182(a); 28 C.F.R. § 36.201(a).
  4. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (“VFW”) is a nonprofit veterans service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from active, guard, and reserve forces.  VFW 2976 is the local VFW post.  VFW 2976 operates a lounge that serves food and drink and is open to the public for events such as karaoke.  VFW 2976’s lounge is a place of public accommodation within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(b) and 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.

II. BACKGROUND

  1. The Department initiated this compliance review of VFW 2976’s policies pursuant to title III of the ADA.  VFW 2976 cooperated fully with the Department in this matter.
  2. The Department received information that VFW 2976 had a policy that permitted the use of service dogs only for individuals who are blind and use guide dogs, or who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and use signal dogs.  The VFW 2976’s policy specifically prohibited individuals with other disabilities such as those who have post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or mobility disabilities from entering the lounge with a service dog.
  3. Individuals with disabilities, including psychiatric or mobility disabilities, are protected by title III of the ADA.  42 U.S.C. § 12102; 28 C.F.R. § 36.105.
  4.  Title III of the ADA requires that public accommodations modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.  28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c). VFW 2976 admits that it had a written policy that discriminated against individuals with certain disabilities and states that it did not realize certain types of service dogs are recognized under the ADA, for example, dogs to assist individuals with mobility or psychiatric disabilities.
  5. The parties wish to amicably resolve this matter without litigation.  The United States believes that voluntary resolution of this matter through this Agreement is in the public interest.  In consideration of, and consistent with, the terms of this Agreement, the United States agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or filing a civil suit under title III in this matter, except as provided in the Implementation section of this Agreement.

III. REMEDIAL ACTION

  1. Consistent with title III of the ADA, VFW 2976 will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the services it provides by excluding or providing unequal treatment to persons with disabilities, including those who use service animals. 42 U.S.C § 12182; 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.201, 36.202.  Specifically, VFW 2976 will modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability. 42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(2)(A); 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.302(a), (c).
  2. Service Animal Policy: VFW 2976 agrees that all persons with disabilities, including those accompanied by service animals, will be welcome in the lounge at VFW 2976.  VFW 2976 agrees to adopt and abide by the Service Animal Policy (Attachment A) attached to this Agreement.  VFW 2976 will not refuse to admit a person with a disability because that person uses a service animal.  It also agrees that it will not charge a person with a disability any extra fee or ask a person with a disability to comply with any additional condition of service because they use a service animal.
  3. Publication of Policy: VFW 2976 agrees to prominently post the service animal policy in its lounge and on its website.  VFW 2976 will also post a notice in its newsletter and all future advertising stating that VFW 2976 welcomes individuals with disabilities and their service dogs, consistent with the ADA.  VFW 2976 will provide a copy of the notice to the United Sates within ten (10) days of posting.
  4. Training: VFW 2976 leadership, and lounge management and staff will undergo training regarding the ADA requirements to accommodate individuals with disabilities who use service animals, including a review of the Department’s technical assistance document, Frequently Asked Questions About Service Animals and the ADA, available at: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html.  VFW 2976 will arrange for and conduct appropriate training on the ADA and service animals within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement.  VFW 2976 will notify the Department when it has completed this training.
  5. VFW 2976 will not retaliate against or otherwise coerce any individual with a disability who uses a service dog for filing a complaint with the Department or otherwise exercising rights protected by the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12203(a).

IV.  IMPLEMENTATION

  1. This Settlement Agreement cannot be modified or amended except in writing, agreed to and signed by the Parties. 
  2. The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time.  If the United States believes that this Agreement or any portion of it has been violated, it will raise its concerns with VFW 2976 and the parties will attempt to resolve the concerns in good faith.  If the parties are unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue(s) within thirty (30) days of the date the United States provides notice to VFW 2976, the Unites States may institute a civil action in appropriate Federal District Court to enforce this Agreement or the requirements of title III. 
  3. It is a violation of this Agreement for VFW 2976 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 timeframe imposed by the Agreement.
  4. Failure by the United States to enforce any provision or deadline in this Agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of the United States’ right to enforce any deadline or provision of this Agreement. The Agreement, including Attachment A, 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.
  5. 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 local or Federal law.
  6. This Agreement does not affect VFW 2976’s continuing responsibility to comply with all applicable aspects of title III of the ADA. 
  7. A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by VFW 2976 or the United States on request.
  8. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.  This Agreement will remain in effect for three (3) years from the effective date of this Agreement
  9. The provisions of this Agreement shall be deemed severable, and any invalidity or unenforceability of any one or more of its provisions shall not affect the validity or enforceability of the other provisions herein.
  10. The person signing this Agreement for VFW 2976 represents that he is authorized to bind VFW 2976 to this Agreement.

 

FOR CLAREMORE VFW 2976

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: /s/ Bill Richey
BILL RICHEY, Commander
VFW Post and Auxiliary 2976
1717 West DuPont
Claremore, OK  90069
(918) 342-5730 (telephone)
Dated: 2/5/18

FOR THE UNITED STATES

JOHN M. GORE
Acting Assistant Attorney General

REBECCA B. BOND
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

ANNE S. RAISH, Acting Chief
KATHLEEN P. WOLFE,
Special Litigation Counsel
AMANDA MAISELS, Deputy Chief
Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division

By: /s/ Beth A. Esposito
BETH A. ESPOSITO, Trial Attorney
Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. – NYA
Washington, DC  20530
(202) 305-1130 (telephone)
(202) 305-9775 (facsimile)
Dated: 2/6/18

ATTACHMENT A
POLICY REGARDING INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES AND SERVICE ANIMALS

Claremore VFW 2976 is committed to providing service to customers with disabilities, including those individuals with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Service animals play an important role in ensuring the independence of people with disabilities.  Claremore VFW 2976 welcomes customers who use service animals.

What is a Service Animal?

“Service animal” means any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.  Service animals come in all breeds and sizes.  A service animal 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:

Requirements with Regard to Service Animals

Claremore VFW 2976 may ask the person if the dog is required because of a disability, and what work or task the dog has been trained to perform.  Claremore VFW 2976 may not ask an individual with a disability for proof of his or her disability or for any information about his or her disability, nor may Claremore VFW 2976 require proof or certification of the animal’s training or vaccination.  Service animals do not always have a sign, symbol, or harness indicating they are service animals.

Limited Exceptions

Claremore VFW 2976 has the right to exclude a service animal from the lounge if the animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it or the animal is not housebroken.  Claremore VFW 2976 may not refuse service to an individual with a disability who may normally be accompanied by a service animal, when he is not accompanied by the service animal.