Material shown in italics is from the preamble of the of the regulation and is presented for clarification only.
This section contains amendments from May 21, 1996.

37.11  Administrative Enforcement.

(a) Recipients of Federal financial assistance from the Department of Transportation are subject to administrative enforcement of the requirements of this Part under the provisions of 49 CFR Part 27, Subpart C.

(b) Public entities,whether or not they receive Federal financial assistance, also are subject to enforcement action as provided by the Department of Justice.

(c) Private entities, whether or not they receive Federal financial assistance, are also subject to enforcement action as provided in the regulations of the Department of Justice implementing Title III of the ADA (28 CFR Part 36).  
This section spells out administrative means of enforcing the requirements of the ADA.  Recipients of Federal financial assistance from DOT (whether public or private entities) are subject to DOT's section 504 enforcement procedures.  The existing procedures, including administrative complaints to the DOT Office of Civil Rights, investigation, attempts at conciliation, and final resort to proceedings to cut off funds to a noncomplying recipient, will continue to be used.

In considering enforcement matters, the Department is guided by a policy that emphasizes compliance.  The aim of enforcement action, as we see it, is to make sure that entities meet their obligations, not to impose sanctions for their own sake.  The Department's enforcement priority is on failures to comply with basic requirements and "pattern or practice" kinds of problems, rather than on isolated operational errors.

Under the DOJ rules implementing Title II of the ADA (28 CFR Part 35), DOT is a "designated agency" for enforcement of complaints relating to transportation programs of public entities, even if they do not receive Federal financial assistance.  When it receives such a complaint, the Department will investigate the complaint, attempt conciliation and, if conciliation is not possible, take action under section 504 and/or refer the matter to the DOJ for possible further action.

Title III of the ADA does not give DOT any administrative enforcement authority with respect to private entities whose transportation services are subject to Part 37.  In its Title III rule (28 CFR Part 36), DOJ assumes enforcement responsibility for all Title III matters.  If the Department of Transportation receives complaints of violations of Part 37 by private entities, it will refer the matters to the DOJ.

It should be pointed out that the ADA includes other enforcement options.  Individuals have a private right of action against entities who violate the ADA and its implementing regulations.  The DOJ can take violators to court.  These approaches are not mutually exclusive with the administrative enforcement mechanisms described in this section.  An aggrieved individual can complain to DOT about an alleged transportation violation and go to court at the same time.  Use of administrative enforcement procedures is not, under Titles II and III, an administrative remedy that individuals must exhaust before taking legal action.

We also would point out that the ADA does not assert any blanket preemptive authority over state or local nondiscrimination laws and enforcement mechanisms.  While requirements of the ADA and this regulation would preempt conflicting state or local provisions (e.g., a building code or zoning ordinance that prevents compliance with Appendix A or other facility accessibility requirements, a provision of local law that said bus drivers could not leave their seats to help secure wheelchair users), the ADA and this rule do not prohibit states and localities from legislating in areas relating to disability.  For example, if a state law requires a higher degree of service than the ADA, that requirement could still be enforced.  Also, states and localities may continue to enforce their own parallel requirements.  For example, it would be a violation of this rule for a taxi driver to refuse to pick up a person based on that person's disability.  Such a refusal may also be a violation of a county's taxi rules, subjecting the violator to a fine or suspension of operating privileges.  Both ADA and local remedies could proceed in such a case.

Labor-management agreements cannot stand in conflict with the requirements of the ADA and this rule.  For example, if a labor-management agreement provides that vehicle drivers are not required to provide assistance to persons with disabilities in a situation in which this rule requires such assistance, then the assistance must be provided notwithstanding the agreement.  Labor and management do not have the authority to agree to violate requirements of Federal law.