The Justice Department has announced that it filed a complaint and consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado against the operators of a youth wrestling league claiming they failed to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in their policies, practices or procedures.
After 25 years since the passing of the legislation, private sector along with public city and county leaders remain unaware that the ADA addresses more than just access to restrooms and doorway clearances. As a result, Accessology, a national consulting company on issues of access is warning these entities that they could be exposed to reviews by the Department of Justice (DOJ) if they do not become fully compliant under the ADA.
In its complaint, the United States alleges that Pikes Peak Youth Sports Association, LLC violated the ADA when it denied a seven year old child with a disability equal access to its state wrestling tournament on the basis of disability by refusing to modify its age division policy. The civil action contends that Pikes Peak Youth Sports Association, LLC which serves approximately 4,000 children across the state of Colorado denied the child, who has a type of dwarfism, the opportunity to compete in the 2014 Colorado State Wrestling Championship when it refused to allow him to “play down” one age division so he could compete with wrestlers closer to his weight and size. The United States also listed Peak Youth Sports Association as a successor-in-interest to Pikes Peak Youth Sports Association, LLC.
According to a press release published by the DOJ, the consent decree, which is subject to acceptance by the court, requires the wrestling league to adopt and publicize a disability nondiscrimination policy, including procedures for handling requests to modify policies for wrestlers with disabilities. The league will also conduct training, pay compensatory damages to the child identified in the complaint, and submit periodic reports. In addition, the wrestling league will pay compensatory damages to the child identified in the complaint and report to the department on its compliance with the agreement.
“Participating in athletic competition is a formative experience for children across this country, and children with disabilities are entitled to participate equally in youth sports,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “The ADA celebrated its 25th anniversary this year and private entities that operate youth athletics should be well aware of their obligations under the ADA.”
Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations, including youth sports leagues like Pikes Peak Wrestling League, to reasonably modify their policies, practices or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford their goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations to individuals with disabilities and when such modifications would not fundamentally alter the nature of their goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations.
(NOTE: If you would like assistance reviewing your compliance under the ADA, or need consultation on accessibility related issues, contact Accessology at 972-434-0068 or visit the website here http://accessology.com/ )