The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) law, the Disability Rights Section, protects your (or your loved one’s) right to take an assistance dog into most areas where the public is allowed, including government properties, places of business, and other indoor and outdoor public spaces. Unfortunately, there’s a good deal of ignorance about the law, and it’s not uncommon for people with disabilities using service dogs to be barred from entering. And sometimes, it’s not just ignorance, but willful disregard for the law.
It’s not just access rights that the ADA law protects; it also stipulates that people with assistance dogs can’t be charged extra fees, made to wait longer than others, segregated, or otherwise treated differently from everyone else because of their canine partner. Refusing entry, adding extra costs, and other forms of different treatment all constitute discrimination.
If you believe that you or someone else has been discriminated against by any entity covered by the ADA law due to use of a service dog, you are encouraged to file an ADA complaint with the US Department of Justice. It’s an important means of educating people about the rights of those using assistance dogs and discouraging discrimination.
Methods for Filing a Complaint
It’s easy to lodge an ADA discrimination complaint with the DOJ online, by mail, or by fax.
- To file an ADA complaint electronically:
Online Complaint Form (en Español)
Instructions for submitting attachments are on the form.
2. To file an ADA complaint by mail:
To file a complaint by mail provide the same information requested in the form linked to above. Mail it to:
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section – 1425 NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530
3. To file an ADA complaint by fax:
Fax your discrimination complaint to (202) 307-1197.
Remember to keep a copy of the complaint for your records.
If you are unable to file a complaint using one of these methods, the DOJ will transcribe and file it for you via telephone or videophone. Call the ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY) to make arrangements.
Information to Include in Your ADA Complaint
- Your full name and contact information, including a phone number, and the name of the person discriminated against if not you
- The full name and contact information of the entity against which you are filing the discrimination complaint
- A description of the incident, including dates and names of parties involved if possible
- Any additional information or documentation you have to support the allegation
- Instructions for how a DOJ representative should contact and communicate with you
Your identity is kept confidential unless it becomes necessary to disclose it in the course of litigation or enforcement.
What to Expect After Filing Your ADA Complaint
The DOJ receives many ADA complaints and reviews each one diligently, so it can take up to three months for your claim to be reviewed. If you haven’t heard anything after three months, contact the ADA Information Line at the numbers provided above.
When your complaint is reviewed, you may be asked for additional information or documentation, or you’re notified of the DOJ’s decision. This may include referral to the ADA Mediation Program, your local US Attorney’s office, or another appropriate federal agency. The DOJ may also elect to further investigate and/or pursue litigation, or it may decide it is unable to proceed with any action in regard to your complaint.
The ADA Mediation Program is a nationwide network of professional mediators who generally bring about an efficient, satisfactory resolution. You and the entity you filed against voluntarily participate in mediation. In the event of an investigation, you’re contacted by an investigator or attorney who will collect information and guide you through the process, but who cannot act as your counsel or representative in any litigation.