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Chapter 8: Enforcement

Regulatory references: 28 CFR 36.501-36.508.

III-8.4000 Suit by the Attorney General.

The Department may bring a civil action in any appropriate United States district court if it has reasonable cause to believe that --
  1. Any person or group of persons is engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of title III; or
  2. Any person or group of persons has been discriminated against in violation of title III and the discrimination raises an issue of general public importance.

What remedies are available in civil actions brought by the Department of Justice? The remedies available include those available in an action brought by an individual, such as an order granting temporary, preliminary, or permanent relief; requiring that facilities be made readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; requiring provision of an auxiliary aid or service; or modification of a policy, practice, or procedure.

In addition, in a suit brought by the Department, the court may award other appropriate relief, including, if requested by the Department, monetary damages to individual victims of discrimination. Monetary damages do not include punitive damages. They do include, however, all forms of compensatory damages, including out-of-pocket expenses and damages for pain and suffering.

Also, to vindicate the public interest, the court may assess a civil penalty against the covered entity in an amount --

  1. Not exceeding $50,000 for a first violation; and
  2. Not exceeding $100,000 for any subsequent violation.

How will violations be counted in determining whether a particular violation is "first" or "subsequent"? All violations found in the first suit against a covered entity are considered to be the first violation, so that the maximum penalty that may be assessed in that suit is $50,000. A "subsequent" violation would not be found until the Department brought a second suit against the same covered entity. The maximum penalty in each suit after the first suit is $100,000.

Will good faith efforts be considered in determining the amount of civil penalty? Yes. In considering what amount of civil penalty, if any, is appropriate, the court is required to give consideration to any good faith effort or attempt by the covered entity to comply with its obligations under the Act. One of the factors to be considered in evaluating good faith is whether the entity could have reasonably anticipated the need for an appropriate type of auxiliary aid needed to accommodate the unique needs of a particular individual with a disability.