Settlement Agreement between the United States of America and the DolgenCorp, LLC

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND DOLGENCORP, LLC.
DJ# 202-3-41

The United States of America, by and through all three United States Attorneys for the state of Alabama, enters into this Settlement Agreement ("Agreement") with Dolgencorp, LLC. ("Dollar General"), to redress discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 36. The parties hereby agree as follows.

A. DEFINITIONS

  1. “ADA” means the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §12101 et seq., and its implementing regulations issued by the Department of Justice (“Department”) in effect on the Effective Date (as defined below) of this Agreement.
  2. “Title III” means Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§12181-12189 (1990), and the implementing regulations in 28 C.F.R. Part 36 and Appendix A in effect on the Effective Date of this Agreement.
  3. “Accessible Features” means features of facilities and equipment that are available to the public.
  4. “Maintenance of Accessible Features” means maintaining in operable working condition those features of facilities and equipment that are required to be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities under Title III of the ADA. 28 C.F.R. §36.211.

B. FACTS

  1.  Dollar General is an American retail store with 639 stores located in the state of Alabama.  Dollar General markets itself as a discount store selling both name-brand and generic merchandise, in addition to an expanded selection of groceries. 
  2. The Department, through the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama, opened an investigation of Dollar General pursuant to the ADA, which authorizes the Department to investigate alleged violations of Title III.  42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(A)(i).  The investigation was initiated upon the receipt of complaints in the Southern District of Alabama alleging that certain Dollar General stores do not comply with Title III and its implementing regulations.  Specifically, the complaints alleged that designated accessible features of the Dollar General Store facilities were not being sufficiently maintained to ensure access for persons with disabilities, including maintaining access to designated accessible parking spaces and keeping store aisles free of clutter (including merchandise, shopping carts and/or boxes) so as not to reduce accessible routes to and within the store facilities.  As a result of these failures, persons with disabilities who use mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers are subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability. These same conditions were subsequently found to exist in other Dollar General stores in the Middle District of Alabama and the Northern District of Alabama.
  3. Dollar General has cooperated fully with the Department’s investigation and enters this Agreement for the sole purpose of addressing issues with respect to maintenance of accessible features that are identified in this Agreement.  Further, because Dollar General welcomes persons with disabilities at its stores, Dollar General has agreed to implement certain measures to assure that all of its stores in the state of Alabama are more accessible to persons with disabilities.
  4. The United States does not assert that this Agreement or the actions contemplated herein will necessarily bring Dollar General’s stores in the state of Alabama into compliance with all aspects of the ADA, and nothing in this Agreement is intended to constitute an interpretation of the legal requirements of the ADA by the United States.  Rather, this Agreement is entered into by the parties for the purpose of compromising disputed claims and avoiding the expenses and risks of litigation. 
  5. During the pendency of this Agreement, the United States agrees to refrain from filing a civil lawsuit against Dollar General in the state of Alabama for the limited issue of failure to maintain accessible features outlined in this Agreement, provided however, that the United States reserves the right to file a civil lawsuit to enforce this Agreement in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 21 below, for failure to comply with any of its terms.

C. JURISDICTION

  1. All of the Dollar General stores in the state of Alabama are “places of public accommodation” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(E) and 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.  Dollar General is subject to Title III because it is a private entity that owns, leases, or operates places of public accommodation, 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(E); 28 C.F.R. § 36.104(5), and is thus a public accommodation under Title III of the ADA.  28 C.F.R. § 36.104.
  2. The United States, by and through the Department, enters into this Agreement pursuant to its authority, under 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b) and 28 C.F.R. § 36.503, to enforce the ADA.

D. REMEDIAL MEASURES TO BE TAKEN BY DOLLAR GENERAL

Maintenance of Accessible Features

  1. Pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 36.211, Dollar General shall endeavor to ensure that its employees will not place merchandise, shopping carts, boxes and/or any other items in areas of the facility, including both inside and outside of its stores, where such placement reduces or eliminates accessibility for, among other features:
    1. Parking in the designated accessible parking spaces and access aisles;
    2. Access to the entrance of the stores; and
    3. Accessible routes within the store. 

Policy Implementation

  1. Within thirty (30) calendar days of the execution of this Agreement, Dollar General shall develop a detailed policy to be submitted to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama for review, comment, modifications and approval.  This Policy will delineate Dollar General’s policies and procedures prohibiting its employees from placing merchandise, shopping carts, boxes and/or other items in areas that will reduce access as outlined in this Agreement in any of it stores in the state of Alabama.

    ADA Coordinator

  2. Within sixty (60) calendar days of the execution of this Agreement, Dollar General shall hire or designate an employee to serve as an ADA Coordinator.  That employee shall have sufficient training and authority to endeavor to ensure that all Dollar General stores in the state of Alabama are in compliance with this Agreement.  While the ADA Coordinator may have other primary duties, this employee should also be available to discuss, explain and coordinate the handling of ADA training and complaints pursuant to this Agreement.

    Training

  3. Within thirty (30) calendar days of the execution of this Agreement, Dollar General shall ensure that all regional directors, district managers, store managers and store employees throughout the stores owned, leased or operated by Dollar General in the state of Alabama will have completed training regarding Title III of the ADA, and to also specifically address maintenance of accessible features to include topics such as the following:
    1. Providing access to designated handicap parking spaces and access aisles;
    2. Providing an accessible route to the facility that is not blocked by obstacles (i.e., merchandise, shopping carts or boxes);
    3. Providing an accessible entrance; and
    4. Providing access to its goods and services contained within the stores (i.e., by not placing merchandise, shopping carts or boxes in a manner to create narrow aisles).
  4. Within sixty (60) calendar days of the execution of this Agreement, Dollar General shall ensure that all store managers assigned to stores owned, leased and/or operated by Dollar General in the state of Alabama have received computer based learning on ADA compliance regarding their obligations under Title III of the ADA.  Dollar General shall submit their training module to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama for review and/or approval.  Newly hired managers for Dollar General stores in the state of Alabama shall receive this training within thirty (30) calendar days of starting employment.
  5. Store managers assigned to stores owned, leased and/or operated by Dollar General in the state of Alabama are responsible for ensuring that all in-store employees will receive written, audio/video and/or web-based training on ADA compliance and the requirements of this Agreement.  Store managers and/or Dolgencorp, LLC. shall maintain a record of all ADA training to include the type of training, the date of training and the employees that received the training.
  6. Dollar General is responsible for all expenses of ADA training, to be conducted annually, to its employees, both supervisory and non-supervisory staff, assigned to the stores owned, leased and/or operated in the state of Alabama. 

Reporting and Record-Keeping Requirements

  1. Within ninety (90) calendar days of the execution of this Agreement, and for the duration of this Agreement, yearly on the anniversary of the effective date, Dollar General shall submit to the United States a compliance report.  The compliance report shall include:  (a) documentation of training provided to its employees in the state of Alabama, to include copies of agendas, sign-in sheets, or other document reflecting the names of the employees that have received the training, training materials, the date the training was held and the store number and telephone number for the Dollar General store that provided the training; and (b) copies of any ADA surveys, inspections or evaluations conducted by Dollar General stores in the state of Alabama.
  2. For the duration of this Agreement, Dollar General through its Corporate Office shall notify Assistant United States Attorney, Suntrease Williams-Maynard with the Southern District of Alabama, in writing, within fifteen (15) calendar days of receipt of any complaint of ADA discrimination against any stores owned, leased and/or operated by Dollar General Corporation in the state of Alabama.  Such notification shall include the date of the complaint, a copy of any written complaint or a description of the verbal complaint, and contact information for the complaining party.  Within fifteen (15) calendar days of the resolution of any complaint, Dollar General Corporation shall notify counsel for the United States, in writing, providing the details of the resolution.

E. ENFORCEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION

  1. In consideration of this Agreement, the United States will refrain from undertaking further action relating only to its investigation regarding the failure to maintain accessible features issues identified in this Agreement in its stores in the state of Alabama, except as provided in this paragraph.  The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time.  If the United States believes that this Agreement or any portion thereof has been violated, it will raise its concerns with Dollar General Corporate’s office in writing and the parties will attempt to resolve the concerns in good faith.  In the case of a perceived breach, the United States will give Dollar General Corporation thirty (30) calendar days from the date it provides notification in writing of any breach of this Agreement to cure that breach before instituting an enforcement action.  If the parties are unable to reach a resolution within sixty (60) calendar days of the date of the United States’ written notification, the United States may seek enforcement of the terms of the Agreement in any United States District Court where jurisdiction and venue are proper.
  2. The United States and any persons acting on its behalf shall be permitted reasonable access to any stores owned, leased and/or operated by Dollar General in the state of Alabama to review compliance with this Agreement. 
  3. Failure by the United States to enforce this Agreement or any of its provisions shall not be construed as a waiver of its right to do so with regard to other provisions of this Agreement
  4. This Agreement shall be binding on Dolgencorp, LLC., including all agents, successors in interest, and assigns thereof.  In the event that Dollar General Corporation seeks to sell, transfer, or assign all or part of its interest during the term of this Agreement, as a condition of sale, transfer, or assignment, Dollar General Corporation shall obtain the written accession of the successor or assignee to any obligation remaining under this Agreement for the remaining term of the Agreement.
  5. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties relating to this matter and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by any party or agents of any party that is not contained in this written Agreement, shall be enforceable. 
  6. Any notices or other communications required by this Agreement shall be effective when either delivered in person or by overnight mail.
  7.  The duration of this Agreement will be three (3) years from the effective date.
  8. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature hereto.

FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

 

Dated: 12/21/16

 

 

 

 

Dated: 12/22/16

 

 

 

Dated: 12/22/16

KENYEN R. BROWN
United States Attorney
Southern District of Alabama

/s/ Suntrease Williams-Maynard 
SUNTREASE WILLIAMS-MAYNARD
Assistant United States Attorney   
United States Attorney’s Office
63 South Royal Street, Suite 600
Mobile, Alabama 36602
Telephone: 251.415.7163

JOYCE WHITE VANCE
United States Attorney
Northern District of Alabama

/s/ Carla Ward
CARLA WARD
Assistant United States Attorney
United States Attorney’s Office
1801 4TH Avenue, North
Birmingham, Alabama 35203
Telephone: 205.244.2001

GEORGE L. BECK, JR.
United States Attorney
Middle District of Alabama


/s/ Jerusha Adams
JERUSHA ADAMS
Assistant United States Attorney
United States Attorney’s Office
131 Clayton Street
Montgomery, Alabama 36104
Telephone:   334.223.7280

FOR DOLGENCORP,LLC.

Dated: 1/3/17
/s/ Steve Sunderland
Steve Sunderland
Senior Vice President of Store Operations
Dolgencorp, LLC.