How is the Americans with Disabilities Act enforced?

Gavel and money

Through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), our nation committed itself to eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division is proud to play a critical role in enforcing the ADA, working towards a future in which all the doors are open to equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, integration and economic self-sufficiency for persons with disabilities.

The Department of Justice enforces the ADA through:
  • Complaints
  • Lawsuits
  • Consent Decrees
  • Settlement Agreements
  • Mediation

Andrea Billups discussed recent activities of enforcement by the Justice Department.

The Justice Department has announced that it will intervene in a private lawsuit filed against national tax preparation firm H&R Block, saying its website does not allow sufficient access for people with disabilities.

The department's motion, filed Nov. 25, 2013 against Block subsidiaries HRB Digital and HRB Tax Group, says the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which the Justice Department has ruled applies to websites.

The Justice Department, in making its motion to intervene in the case, says the website "prevents some people with disabilities from completing even the most basic activities on the site."

"The United States demands that H&R Block is fined a penalty to 'vindicate the public interest' and to award money to the individuals who sued the company. The ADA prohibits discrimination of disability by public accommodations in the 'full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations,'" the Justice Department said in joining the lawsuit.

"Defendants have failed to ensure that [the website] permits accurate and effective communication of the website's information using, among others, screen-reader software programs, refreshable Braille displays, captioning, and keyboard navigation," the DOJ's complaint reads.

The department is seeking a court order in its proposed complaint that makes sure H&R Block's website provides equal accessibility. It is also seeking monetary damages, noting that by joining the suit, the DOJ "directly implicates the United States' obligation to enforce the ADA and its interest in ending disability discrimination."