Lafayette Consolidated Government, Lafayette, LA, 12-21-11

U.S. Department
of Transportation
Headquarters East Building, 5th Floor - TCR
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20590
Federal Transit
Administration
December 21, 2011

Re: FTA Complaint Number 11-0005

     

Re: FTA Complaint No. 11-0005

Dear [name withheld]:

This letter responds to the complaint you filed against Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG) and its paratransit service provider Acadiana alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights is responsible for civil rights compliance and monitoring, which includes ensuring that providers of public transportation are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) implementing regulations at 49 C.F.R. Parts 27, 37, 38 and 39.

In the complaint investigation process, we analyze the complaint’s allegations for possible ADA deficiencies by the transit provider. If FTA identifies what may be a violation, we first attempt to provide technical assistance to assist the public transit provider in complying with the ADA. If FTA cannot resolve the apparent violations of the ADA or the DOT ADA regulations by voluntary means, formal enforcement proceedings may be initiated against the public transit provider which may result in termination of Federal funds. FTA may also refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for enforcement.

Each response is developed based on the specific facts and circumstances at issue. A determination resulting from a review of these facts is not intended to express an opinion as to the overall ADA compliance of that transit provider.

FTA investigated your allegations and sent an information request to LCG. We received a response from LCG that addressed and provided relevant information on your allegation, which is addressed in detail below.

Factual Background

Your complaint alleged that LCG does not have a functioning complaint process for addressing and resolving ADA issues. You stated that your numerous complaints against LCG and Acadiana’s paratransit service have been ignored when raising issues with the appropriate LCG officials. Additionally, your complaint goes on to allege that informal resolution attempts have been ignored.

FTA reached out to LCG regarding: (1) the details of LCG’s complaint procedures, (2) the details of LCG’s tracking procedures for complaints received, and (3) how LCG would advertise the availability of the ADA complaint process.

Relevant ADA Background

The DOT ADA regulations at 49 C.F.R. § 27.13 cover the obligation of the transit provider to adopt complaint procedures. This section outlines the following requirements:

(a) Designation of responsible employee. Each recipient that employs fifteen or more persons shall, within 90 days of the effective date of this regulation, forward to the head of the operating administration that provides financial assistance to the recipient, with a copy to the responsible Departmental official, the name, address, and telephone number of at least one person designated to coordinate its efforts to comply with this part. Each such recipient shall inform the head of the operating administration of any subsequent change.
(b) Adoption of complaint procedures. A recipient that employs fifteen or more persons shall, within 180 days, adopt and file with the head of the operating administration procedures that incorporate appropriate due process standards and provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging any action prohibited by this part.

Additionally, the DOT ADA regulations at 49 C.F.R. § 27.121(b) require recipients of Federal financial assistance to maintain complaint records and compliance reports:

Each recipient shall keep on file for one year all complaints of noncompliance received. A record of all such complaints, which may be in summary form, shall be kept for five years.

Analysis

We confirmed with LCG that it now has a complaint process in place to resolve any ADA issues you have with them. Contained within its ADA action plan, available on LCG’s public website, is an ADA Discrimination Complaint Form, information about where you may file a complaint, and information about the internal processes in-place for complaint resolution.1

First, Appendix B of LCG’s ADA action plan outlines complaint procedures on page 7 of the plan. The plan identifies the process to file or log a complaint, whom the official required to provide the response is (name and position), and the timeline allotted to provide a response to the complainant.

Second, the plan identifies the tracking procedures adopted by LCG on page 8, whereby the plan requires creation of a complaint log, identification of the complainant and respondent, along with the nature of the complaint. The procedures also require the LCG representative to document specific details and relevant facts of the complaint, and require a response along with the final disposition of the complaint. The procedures mandate that this log will be maintained for five years from the current date, along with all relevant information.

Pursuant to the plan, complainants must file a complaint no later than 180 days after the alleged act of discrimination. LCG would subsequently have 60 days to complete and file its investigative report and submit responses to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

By copying LCG on this letter, we are informing LCG of the need to better advertise the availability of the complaint process to its riders.

Conclusion

Based upon our discussions with LCG, and the complaint resolution information and processes publically available, we find that LCG has adequately responded to your complaint. We are therefore taking no further action and are closing your complaint as of the date of this letter. If you have any future problems with LCG’s complaint process, please bring the matter to our attention. While FTA’s decision in your case is administratively final, it does not prevent you from pursuing this matter privately in court. If you have any questions regarding this determination, please contact me or Aaron Meyers at (202) 366-3055 or via e-mail at aaron.meyers@dot.gov. Any further correspondence should reference FTA Complaint No. 11-0005. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention, and we trust the above information is helpful.

Sincerely,

 

John R. Day
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights

cc:
LCG
[redacted]
FTA Region 6

1 Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Action Plan to Self-Implementation and Transition Plans, June 14, 2011, http://www.ridelts.com, http://www.ridelts.com/docs/LCG-ADA-TitleVICompliancePolicyStatement.pdf

 


 

Letter to Transit Provider

August 26, 2011

Tony Tramel
Director of Traffic and Transportation
Lafayette Consolidated Government
P.O. Box 4017-C
Lafayette, LA 70506

Re: FTA Complaint No. 11-0005

Dear Mr. Tramel:

This letter is in response to a discrimination complaint the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights received against Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG), and its paratransit service provider Acadiana, alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The FTA Office of Civil Rights is responsible for civil rights compliance and monitoring, which includes ensuring that providers of public transportation are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) implementing regulations at 49 C.F.R. Parts 27, 37, and 38.

In the FTA complaint investigation process, we analyze allegations for possible ADA deficiencies by the transit provider. If deficiencies are identified, they are presented to the transit provider and assistance is offered to correct them within a predetermined timeframe. If FTA cannot resolve apparent violations of the ADA or the DOT ADA regulations by voluntary means, formal enforcement proceedings may be initiated against the public transportation provider. FTA also may refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for enforcement.

The complaint filed by [name withheld] raised allegations pertaining to the absence of LCG having a functioning complaint process for addressing and resolving ADA issues. [The complainant] stated that his numerous complaints against LCG and Acadiana’s paratransit service have been ignored when he raised problems with the appropriate LCG officials. Additionally, his informal attempts at resolution have been ignored.

We appreciate the thoroughness and promptness of Mr. Mitchell’s response to our information requests during our investigation. Our communications help us gain a more complete picture of the situation at LCG. In response to our information request for information pertaining to LCG’s ADA complaint filing and resolution process, we have summarized the current situation as follows:

We must clarify a few points. Our communications confirm that while LCG has a Title VI complaint resolution process, it does not have a process in place to respond to or resolve ADA complaints. We acknowledge that you informed us that Title VI and ADA complaints would be treated in the same manner; however, LCG must still formalize ADA complaint resolution procedures.

The DOT ADA regulations at 49 C.F.R. § 27.13(b) cover the obligation of the transit provider to adopt complaint procedures. This section outlines the requirement that

A recipient that employs fifteen or more persons shall, within 180 days, adopt and file with the head of the operating administration procedures that incorporate appropriate due process standards and provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging any action prohibited by this part.

Additionally, the DOT ADA regulations at 49 C.F.R. § 27.121(b) requires recipients of Federal financial assistance to maintain complaint records and compliance reports:

Each recipient shall keep on file for one year all complaints of noncompliance received. A record of all such complaints, which may be in summary form, shall be kept for five years.

While we appreciate the similar treatment that LCG affords to Title VI and ADA complaints, this requirement has existed since 1991. It is the responsibility of LCG to demonstrate how it complies with Federal law, particularly as related to creation of an ADA complaint resolution process and demonstrating how it will advertise the availability of this process to customers. In light of these concerns, we request more information on LCG’s plans for ensuring compliance with the DOT ADA regulations, specifically:

The response should be sent to my attention within 30 days of the date of this letter at the address above. With your response, include copies of any written policies or instructions implementing these practices. If any practices are under development, please explain the steps that are being taken and provide a timeline for implementation.

If you have any questions regarding this inquiry, please contact me or Aaron Meyers of my staff at (202) 366-3055 or via e-mail at aaron.meyers@dot.gov. Please include the FTA Complaint No. 11-0005 in any correspondence regarding this complaint. Thank you for your continued assistance.

Sincerely,

 

John R. Day
ADA Team Leader
Office of Civil Rights

cc:
Acadiana Transit
FTA Region 6