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Civil penalties increased for violating Americans with Disabilities Act

Civil penalties adjusted for inflation

May 05, 2014

By Craig Palmer

Washington—The Department of Justice issued a final rule increasing civil penalties for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which covers "professional offices of health care providers" including dental offices. This rule is effective April 27, according to the March 28 Federal Register notice. However, the DOJ announcement said, "The new maximums apply only to violations occurring on or after April 28, 2014."

The final rule "adjusts for inflation" civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. "For the Americans with Disabilities Act, this adjustment increases the maximum civil penalty for a first violation under Title III from $55,000 to $75,000; for a subsequent violation the new maximum is $150,000," the DOJ said.

Title III of the AwDA covers 12 types of public accommodations, a category that includes as covered service establishments "professional offices of health care providers" and "hospitals." A professional office of a health care provider is a location where a state-regulated professional provides physical or mental health services to the public, according to the DOJ Title III technical assistance manual.

Title III imposes a number of requirements on public accommodations, such as taking certain steps to make their facilities accessible, making reasonable modifications in policies, practices and procedures that would deny equal access to individuals with disabilities, and furnishing auxiliary aids when necessary to ensure effective communication.