UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES
ACT OF 1990
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND
THE COUNTY OF NORTHAMPTON, PENNSYLVANIA
1. This matter was initiated by a complaint, postmarked January 29, 1997, filed with the United States Department of Justice (the Department), against the County of Northampton, Pennsylvania (County). The complaint was filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12131-12134. The complaint alleges that the County has failed to appoint an ADA coordinator and establish a grievance procedure to resolve ADA complaints. The complainant alleges that on December 16, 1996, he called the County government building to file an ADA complaint. He alleges that he talked to several County officials, none of whom knew about an ADA coordinator. The complainant was finally directed to a local non-profit agency for assistance, but he was unable to file a local complaint.
2. The County denies that it has acted unlawfully with respect to the complaint. The County maintains that the duties of ADA/504 coordinator have been assigned to the County Director of Administration since 1980.
3. The parties have agreed to settle this matter without resolving the factual and legal dispute regarding the lawfulness of actions taken by the County. The Department is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate fully the allegations of the complaint in this matter and to determine if the County is in compliance with title II of the ADA and the Department's implementing regulation, issue findings, and, where appropriate, negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements.
Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. § 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department of Justice fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing a civil suit in this matter.
4. The parties to this Settlement Agreement (Agreement) are the United States of America and the County of Northampton.
5. This Agreement does not constitute an admission of liability and/or fault on the part of the County. The parties enter into this Agreement in order to avoid litigation and hereby agree as follows:
6. Title II of the ADA and its implementing regulation prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. 42 U.S.C. § 12131; 28 C.F.R. § 35.101.
7. The ADA applies to the County because it is a public entity as defined in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title II. 28 C.F.R. § 35.104. As a public entity that has fifty or more employees the ADA requires the County to appoint an ADA Coordinator and establish a grievance procedure.
8. The County agrees to take the following actions within 30 days of the date of this Agreement:
a. The County shall develop and post in prominent locations of its public areas a written policy statement indicating procedures available for persons with disabilities to obtain reasonable modifications to County policies, practices, and procedures.
b. The County shall adopt a grievance procedure providing for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints, and shall publish the procedure, including the name, telephone number, and office address of the ADA Coordinator, in prominent locations of its public areas.
c. The County shall provide the above mentioned policy statement and grievance procedure to all County employees and train all present and future staff members to ensure that all people with disabilities are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner and are afforded the same service as that afforded any citizen.
d. The County shall make the above mentioned policy statement and grievance procedure available to members of the public on request.
9. In consideration of the County's performance of its obligations under this agreement, the Department agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation of complaint number 204-62-132 and to refrain from filing a civil suit arising from its investigation of complaint number 204-62-132.
10. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that this Agreement or any provision thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action in the appropriate Federal district court.
11. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this Agreement or any information contained herein may be made available to any person. The Department may provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.
12. This Agreement shall become effective as of the date of the last signature below.
13. 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 is limited to the facts as set forth in paragraphs 1 through 3, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal, State or local law.
For the United States:
Bill Lann Lee
Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
By:_____________________________ Date: _________________
John L. Wodatch, Chief
Allison Nichol, Deputy Chief
Ron Whisonant, Investigator
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
For the COUNTY OF NORTHAMPTON:
By: ____________________________ Date: ___________________
October 2, 2001