SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND
YORK COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA
DJ No. 205-67-12

Press Release

  1. This Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”) is entered into between the United States of America and York County (“Defendant”), (collectively, “the Parties”).
  2. This Agreement resolves a complaint filed by the United States against Defendant under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111-17, in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, United States v. York County, No. ______ (D. S.C. [Date]) (“Civil Action”).
  3. The Parties agree that it is in their best interests, and the United States believes that it is in the public interest, to resolve this Civil Action on mutually agreeable terms and so voluntarily enter into this Agreement. 
  1. Background
    1. Title I of the ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against a qualified individual in the application process on the basis of disability.  42 U.S.C. § 12112; 29 C.F.R. § 1630.4.
    2. Defendant is a person within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111(7) and 2000e(a), an employer within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111(5), and a covered entity within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12111(2).
    3. Complainant is an individual with a disability within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12102; 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2.  He has dwarfism, which is a physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
    4. This matter was initiated by a charge filed by Complainant (Charge No. 14C-2016-01032) with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).  The EEOC investigated the charge and found reasonable cause to believe that Defendant discriminated against Complainant on the basis of disability in violation of the ADA.  After the EEOC’s attempts at conciliation failed, the EEOC referred the charge to the United States Department of Justice.
    5. The United States’ complaint alleges that Defendant discriminated against Complainant by: (i) failing to make reasonable accommodations to the application process so that Complainant could participate in it (42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A)), and (ii) using qualification standards or other selection criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an individual with a disability or a class of individuals with disabilities (42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(6)).  The complaint alleges that Defendant’s job announcement for the position of Purchasing Manager listed a driver’s license as a mandatory requirement, even though driving was not an essential job function.  Because of his disability, Complainant does not have a driver’s license.  When Complainant requested that Defendant revise or waive the driver’s license requirement so that he could apply for the position, for which he was otherwise qualified, Defendant refused to do so. 
  2. Injunctive Relief
    1. Nondiscrimination.  Defendant, by and through its officials, agents, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation in the performance of employment or personnel functions, will not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of disability, actual or perceived, in violation of Title I of the ADA.
    2. ADA Coordinator.  Within fifteen (15) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Defendant will designate an employee or consultant to address employment-related ADA  issues.  The designated employee or consultant will serve as the primary contact for disability-related issues and concerns raised by applicants for employment with Defendant and by employees of Defendant, and will oversee and coordinate implementation of the requirements of this Agreement.
    3. Review of Job Listings.  Within forty-five (45) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Defendant will review and revise all current job listings to ensure the following:
      1. Instructions for requesting reasonable accommodations are clearly stated and include contact information for the ADA Coordinator.
      2. Only essential job functions are included as mandatory requirements.  Specifically, possessing a driver’s license will only be listed as a mandatory requirement where driving is an essential job function. 

      All new job listings created after the effective date of this Agreement will be drafted to ensure both (a) and (b) above.

    4. Policies and Procedures.  Defendant will revise its policies and procedures to ensure compliance with Title I of the ADA.  The revisions will contain explicit provisions addressing nondiscrimination in the hiring process, including reasonable accommodations for applicants and appropriate qualification standards or selection criteria for job openings.  
      1. Within forty-five (45) days from the effective date of this Agreement, Defendant will send its revised proposed policies and procedures to the United States for review and approval.
      2. The United States will notify Defendant in writing whether it approves or disapproves of the proposed policies and procedures.  If the United States disapproves, it may offer alternative language or other changes to be included in the final revised policies and procedures. 
      3. Within ten (10) days from the date of the United States’ written final approval of Defendant’s revised policies and procedures, Defendant will implement same, including by distributing copies of these policies to all employees whose work may be affected by the policies and procedures. 
    5. Training.  Within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of the United States’ written final approval of Defendant’s revised policies and procedures, and annually for the term of this Agreement, Defendant will provide mandatory training on all aspects of Title I of the ADA to all Human Resources staff and to other current employees who participate in hiring-related decisions, including reviewing requests for reasonable accommodations and establishing qualification standards or selection criteria for job openings.  The training will also be provided to such applicable employees who are hired or promoted during the term of this Agreement, within thirty (30) days of the start of their positions with Defendant.
      1. The first training will be conducted live (and may be videotaped for use at subsequent trainings) and will include, at minimum, a discussion of: (i) the nondiscrimination requirements of Title I of the ADA; (ii) procedures for determining whether an applicant with a disability should be granted a reasonable accommodation; and (iii) appropriate qualification standards or selection criteria for job openings. 
      2. All trainings will be conducted by trainers knowledgeable about Title I of the ADA that Defendant has selected and proposed to the United States (no less than thirty (30) days prior to training) and that the United States has approved in writing.   
    6. Reporting.  Six (6) months after the effective date of this Agreement, and every six (6) months thereafter for the life of the Agreement, Defendant will provide a written report (“Report”) to the United States regarding its efforts to comply with this Agreement.  The Report will include, for the preceding six-month period:
      1. A detailed explanation of Defendant’s efforts to comply with the requirements of the Agreement.  To the extent Defendant experienced any difficulties in its efforts to comply with the Agreement during the six-month reporting period, those difficulties should be detailed along with a proposed plan to address any such difficulties.
      2. A list of employees who received copies of the policies and procedures identified in Paragraph 12.
      3. Copies of attendance logs listing the dates of the trainings and names and job titles of individuals who attended the trainings identified in Paragraph 13.
      4. A list of all requests for reasonable accommodations made by applicants or prospective applicants, to include: (i) requestor’s full name, (ii) job title sought, (iii) accommodation requested, (iii) reason for the request, and (iv) Defendant’s response.
      5. Notification regarding any lawsuit, written complaint, charge, or grievance alleging that Defendant has violated Title I of the ADA.  Such notice will include, at a minimum: (i) a description of the nature of the allegations; (ii) the name of all persons involved, including the individual making the allegations; and (iii) all documentation possessed by Defendant relevant to the request or allegations, including Defendant’s response.
    7. Address.  All information provided pursuant to the above reporting requirements under this Agreement should be provided to the Department via overnight courier service to: Rebecca B. Bond, Chief, DJ No. 205-67-12, Attn: Nabina Sinha, Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section, 1425 New York Avenue, N.W., Fourth Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005, or via electronic mail to nabina.sinha@usdoj.gov.  All confidential information provided to the Department shall be maintained in a confidential manner, and shall be used only for purposes of implementing this Agreement, unless otherwise authorized by law.
  3. Monetary Relief
    1. Within twenty (20) days of the effective date of this Agreement, Defendant shall offer, in writing, to pay Complainant a total monetary award of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000.00) as compensation to Complainant for the effects of the discrimination and the harm he has endured, including, but not limited to, emotional distress as a result of Defendant’s refusal to consider his application for employment.  Defendant shall send this written offer to Complainant along with a copy of this signed Settlement Agreement and the attached Release of Claims.  Defendant shall send the United States a copy of this written offer and Release of Claims at the same time that they are sent to Complainant.
    2. In order to accept the relief offered by Defendant, Complainant must execute and return the Release of Claims to Defendant within twenty-one (21) days of his receipt of Defendant’s letter and Release of Claims.
    3. If Complainant accepts Defendant’s compensatory relief offer as outlined in Paragraph 16, Defendant shall pay to Complainant, by overnight mail, the full amount of the total monetary award specified in Paragraph 16 within thirty (30) days of its receipt of a Release of Claims signed by Complainant.  Defendant will provide written notification to the United States, including a copy of the check, within seven (7) days of completing the actions described in this paragraph.
  4. Implementation and Enforcement
    1. Consideration.  In consideration for the Agreement set forth above, Plaintiff will file to dismiss the Civil Action, as set forth in Paragraph 20.  The Parties agree and acknowledge that this consideration is adequate and sufficient.
    2. Voluntary Dismissal.  Within twenty-one (21) days of Defendant complying with Paragraphs 16-18, the Plaintiff will file a Notice of Dismissal of the underlying Civil Action pursuant to F.R.C.P. 41(a)(1)(A)(i).
    3. Enforcement.  The United States may review Defendant’s compliance with this Agreement at any time.  If the United States believes that Defendant has failed to comply adequately or in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement or that any requirement has been violated, the United States shall notify Defendant in writing and the Parties shall attempt to resolve the issue in good faith.  If the parties are unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue within thirty (30) days of the date the United States provides notice to Defendant, the United States may institute a civil action in an appropriate Federal District Court to enforce this Agreement or the ADA.
    4. Severability.  If any term of this Agreement is determined by any court to be unenforceable, the other terms of this Agreement will nonetheless remain in full force and effect.
    5. Non-Waiver.  Failure by the United States to enforce any provision of this Agreement will not be construed as a waiver of the United States’ right to enforce any provision of this Agreement.
    6. Extensions.  The time frame for completion of any act required by this Agreement may be modified with the mutual written consent of the Parties.
    7. Successor Liability.  This Agreement is binding upon the Defendant, its departments, agents, and employees.
    8. Authority.  A signatory to this document in a representative capacity for the Defendant represents that he or she is authorized to bind the Defendant to this Agreement.
    9. Entire Agreement.  This Agreement constitutes the entire Agreement between the United States and Defendant on the matters raised herein 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 Agreement, including its attachments, is enforceable.
    10. Limitation.  This Agreement is not intended to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other law by Defendant that is not specifically addressed in this Agreement.  This Agreement does not affect Defendant’s continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
    11. Publicity.  A copy of this Agreement or any information contained herein may be made available to any person, and Defendant will provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.
    12. Effective Date. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
    13. Term.  The duration of this Agreement is twenty-three (23) months from the effective date.
    14. Costs.  Each party will assume its own costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees.
    15. Counterparts.  This Agreement may be executed in counterparts, each of which shall be deemed an original, and the counterparts shall together constitute one and the same Agreement, notwithstanding that each Party is not a signatory to the original or the same counterpart.
    16. Litigation Hold.  The Parties agree that, as of the effective date of this Agreement, litigation is not “reasonably foreseeable” concerning the Civil Action.  To the extent that either party previously implemented a litigation hold to preserve documents, electronically stored information, or things related to the matter described in Paragraph 2, the party is no longer required to maintain such a litigation hold.  Nothing in this Paragraph relieves either party of any other obligations imposed by this Agreement.

FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

SHERRI A. LYDON
United States Attorney
District of South Carolina

/s/ Robert Sneed
TINA CUNDARI (#09679)
ROBERT SNEED (#07437)
Assistant United States Attorneys
United States Attorney’s Office
District of South Carolina
Wells Fargo Building
1441 Main Street, Suite 500
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
Tel.: (803) 254-2912
Fax: (803) 254-2912
tina.cundari@usdoj.gov
Robert.Sneed@usdoj.gov

ERIC S. DREIBAND
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

 

/s/ Nabina Sinha
REBECCA B. BOND, Chief
KATHLEEN WOLFE, Special Litigation Counsel
AMANDA MAISELS, Deputy Chief
NABINA SINHA, Attorney
United States Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20530
Tel: (202) 616-2730
Email: nabina.sinha@usdoj.gov

FOR YORK COUNTY

/s/ R. Michael Johnson, Jr.
R. MICHAEL JOHNSON, JR.                      
Chairman, York County Council                              
6 South Congress Street
York, S.C. 29745
Michael.Johnson@yorkcountygov.com  
York County: County.Manager@yorkcountygov.com