Under the terms of a settlement agreement reached in December 2020 between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Amtrak, disabled passengers who traveled or tried to travel on Amtrak may be entitled to compensation. Specifically, passengers who traveled or tried to travel to or from one of 78 inaccessible Amtrak stations as far back as July 27, 2013 may be eligible for a piece of the $2.25 million compensation fund. Once Amtrak appoints a settlement administrator, a link to apply for compensation will be prominently displayed on www.amtrak.com.
Amtrak also agreed to fix their access deficits, which range from a lack or accessible parking and restrooms, to access barriers found at station entrances, track crossings, waiting rooms and platforms. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Amtrak had until July 26, 2010 – twenty years after the law was signed – to correct these access shortfalls. As Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division pointed out, “Amtrak failed or refused to comply with the Congressionally-mandated 2010 deadline, and Amtrak’s noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act injured individuals with disabilities. Passengers with disabilities have waited long enough. Today’s agreement is a historic victory for individuals with disabilities.”
Over the next 10 years, Amtrak will design at least 135 accessible stations, complete construction at 90 of those stations, and have at least 45 more under construction. Amtrak will also train staff on ADA requirements and implement an agreed-upon process for accepting and handling ADA complaints.
It should be noted that this settlement is the direct result of passenger complaints to the DOJ from 2010 to 2013. Although not all consumer complaints are directly addressed through litigation, when the DOJ receives enough of them or notices a pattern, they may move forward. So if you ever experience discrimination because of an ADA violation. take a few minutes to let the DOJ know. It could result in making the world a little bit more accessible. For more information on how to file an ADA complaint, visit https://www.ada.gov/filing_complaint.htm.