PHOENIX, AZ--(Marketwired - October 24, 2016) - Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities - Foundation ("AID.org")
The Arizona Attorney General ("AG") openly admits that they enforce on average less than one ADA Civil Rights violation case per year in regards public accommodations, in spite of the fact that nearly 30,000 such Arizona businesses continue to openly discriminate against individuals with disabilities, according to AID's survey of well over 10,000 business. No wonder discrimination against individuals with disabilities is so rampant in Arizona. "It's because the AG, the agency who is required by law to enforce the ADA, turns a blind eye to the law and attacks those, who at their own expense, take on the task the AG ignores," said Alex Callan, AID's de facto representative.
The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") protects the rights of individuals with disabilities, granting them the same enjoyment of public facilities as those without disabilities. Individuals with disabilities' right to equal access can be enforced through private litigation (as AID does) or by the AG. In the last 10 years, private enforcers of ADA, also known as "Private Attorneys General", as allowed by ARS 41-1492.08 have filed several thousands of civil rights enforcement actions against public accommodations while the AG has filed only 8 according to their own website, and none since 2013. That shamefully less than 1 per year for the AG… See https://www.azag.gov/enforcement-actions/public-accommodation
The Difference between Attorney General Brnovich's Failure to Enforce the ADA and the Success of AID's Enforcement Actions is striking.
In just a few months, AID.org, without any government funding or resources, has filed nearly 2,000 ADA enforcement cases in court. This has cost approximately $800,000 just in court related filing fees. Additionally, AID has filed over 9,000 documented ADA civil right discrimination cases with the AG's office and has spent over $1,700,000 in its Arizona efforts to bring about ADA compliance. As a direct result of AID's efforts, hundreds of violators have agreed to comply with the noted ADA violations and have entered into binding and enforceable settlement agreements. Each one contractually guaranteeing in writing to fix their noted ADA violations by agreed upon dates, which AID.org then follows up on to assure they have made the appropriate corrections. As a result of AID's efforts and the now public awareness of potential legal enforcement actions, thousands of other businesses are taking note and voluntarily complying with the ADA without the need for a lawsuit to be filed against them.
No other private entity in history other than AID has caused so many businesses to become ADA compliant both through litigation and through voluntary compliance in fear of potential litigation, and the AG is doing his best to stop AID's compliance efforts in favor of their own methods which have proven to be ineffective for the last 26 years. "Doing the same thing for 26 years and expecting different results is the definition of Insanity. It is time for change, Arizona either needs a new AG that will enforce the laws of the ADA or for them to allow those with true passion to enforce the ADA, such as AID, to do it… without any expense to the taxpayers," stated Mr. Callan.
AID has discovered through its attendance of a 10-20-2016 seminar lead by the AG, their plan is to file next month for a complete dismissal of the 1,289 ADA related cases filed by AID without investigating or even requiring that ANY of the documented ADA civil rights violations be corrected. The AG is effectively trying to give all 1,289 violating business an effective "Get Out of Jail Card," a "Wink and a Nod" and a "Thumbs Up" to simply keep on discriminating against individuals with disabilities without any penalty or liability.
AID and obviously many thousands of violating businesses wonder why would any business voluntarily comply with the ADA laws if there is no police force or other governmental agency that is the least bit of interested in enforcing the laws especially if there is a governmental agency that supports and defends businesses that discriminate against those with disabilities?
"If the AG's wishes come true," said Mr. Callan, "violating the ADA will be even less risky and penalty free. The AG is supporting a law to allow ADA violators 120 days from the time that someone complains to fix their violations without any potential penalty, even though the law has been in place for over 26 years. AID knows this is a pointless and discriminatory requirement; it mailed out over 40,000 notices and found tens of thousands of businesses still didn't take any corrective action. Getting caught violating the ADA would effectively be the same as getting caught driving at 120 MPH through a school zone and before a cop could give you a ticket the cop would have to ask you to slow down and simply let you go 'Scott Free' without writing a ticket if you would drive through the school zone again at the correct speed within the next 120 days. Or if you got caught driving drunk and the cop would have to 'let you off' if you drove your car sober sometime in the next 120 days," Mr. Callan continued.
The key to ADA compliance, especially voluntarily compliance, just like preventing speeding, theft, drunk driving and murder is the fear of penalties, repercussions and financial expense. The AG is fighting to eliminate all fears of any potential penalties, repercussions and to cover defense expenses for business who are not even willing to pay $25 to put up proper signage to comply with the ADA. "Why would they when no governmental agency cares and individuals with disabilities are afraid to complain for fear of being told that they are banned from that store or location," stated Mr. Callan.
He continued: "Sadly, it is all too common that we at AID hear about individuals with disabilities being denied equal use of facilities and bathrooms, and even being threatened or intimidated when they complain about ADA violations. It is extremely sad when we at AID hear reports of injuries and even deaths that have been cause by ADA violations. But this is Arizona, the Wild West, and the AG who is by law required to act as the 'Sheriff' to enforce the ADA laws has apparently decided on his own that the civil rights of the disabled just do not matter… and if you are willing to fight for and protect their rights the 'Sheriff' will come after you and try to stop you…"
AID's altruistic intentions remain pure and highly effective… To date AID's enforcement efforts have cost over $1.7 Million, with nearly $800,000 just in court related filing fees. While ALL of AID's compliance settlement agreements require timely ADA violation correction guarantees, some settlement agreements also include a negotiated cash component averaging approximately $3,900 per case to cover legal, filing, operational and further compliance actions, etc. Never $10,000 per case and far less than media sources falsely portray. The reason it is necessary for AID to receive these proceeds as part of settlement (approx. $1.2M to date) is to subsidize the costs of identifying, documenting, bringing and managing widespread ADA enforcement actions. Doing so is very costly, and AID does not use any tax funds to investigate and enforce ADA laws. AID's altruistic efforts and results are made abundantly clear by the fact that AID always has, currently is and anticipates it will continue to operate at a substantial loss reaching many hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is definitely clear that AID is NOT "enriching itself", "lining its pockets" or "just in it for the money" because AID has not and does not expect to make a profit. As the math shows… AID's expenses of $1,700,000 minus $1,200,000 collected settlement funds equal a current deficit of over $500,000.
AID is pleased with the growing understanding and support of its mission by not only its growing membership base, but also those who support AID's efforts privately or secretly because of their fears of repercussions or retaliation from those without disabilities. AID is not fearful of such retaliation and will not succumb to negative pressures.
Join AID.org's fight against discrimination by becoming a FREE member and/or civil rights activist at www.AID.org/Membership.html.
AID's Attorneys available for comment:
Dennis Wilenchik (602) 606-2810
Peter Strojnik (602) 524-6602
About Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities - Foundation
Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities - Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit company was formed in January 2016 as Civil Rights Champions in order to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities through charitable gifts, opportunities and the removal of equal access barriers for the over 43 million Americans who live with disabilities caused by one or more conditions.
AID.org sends warning notices to businesses and then acts as private attorneys general to ensure ADA compliance. AID.org's focus is on the most readily visible exterior equal access barriers which Federal, State and Attorney Generals have failed to enforce over the last 26 years. AID.org feels that these violations are a clear indicator of interior ADA violations, which we hope the violating business voluntarily correct.
"For the ADA to yield its promise of equal access for the disabled, it may indeed be necessary and desirable for committed individuals to bring serial litigation advancing the time when public accommodations will be compliant with the ADA." AID.org is committed to bring serial litigation and is primarily self-funded through litigation settlement agreements and private funding.
Those with disabilities and their associates can request assistance and grants online at www.AID.org. To schedule an interview with the AID.org Foundation, please email media@AID.org.