How to File a Complaint Under Titles II and III of the ADA

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Disability Rights Texas Handout

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How to File a Title II and Title III Complaint

This handout covers how to file a Title II and Title III complaint. To file under Title I (employment), see our handout on Employment Discrimination.


Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability in all programs, activities, and services of state and local governments. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability in public accommodations. Private entities covered by Title III include:

  • places of lodging,
  • establishments serving food and drink,
  • places of exhibition or entertainment,
  • places of public gathering,
  • sales or rental establishments,
  • service establishments,
  • stations used for specified public transportation,
  • places of public display or collection,
  • places of recreation,
  • places of education,
  • social service center establishments, and
  • places of exercise or recreation.

Title III also covers commercial facilities (such as warehouses, factories, and office buildings), private transportation services, and licensing and testing practices.

Please take note that an individual typically has 180 days from the alleged date of the discrimination to file a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ).

If you feel you or another person have been discriminated against by a business, entity, agency, organization, or institution covered by Title II and/or III, you can file a complaint with the DOJ. You can file a complaint online, by submitting a form or letter, or via phone call.

File Online

You can use the DOJ’s online reporting form to file your complaint. The form will take you through a 7-step process to submit your complaint to the DOJ. The form is fully accessible and it is also available in both English and Spanish, with more languages to be added in the future.

Submit a Form

You can also complete and submit an Americans with Disabilities Act Discrimination Complaint Form. The form can be completed in writing or by typing. You can submit the form by mail or fax.

To submit your form by mail, send it to:

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
Washington, D.C. 20530

To submit your form by fax, send it to 202-307-1197

Submit a Letter

Another option for submitting your complaint is by simply writing a letter. In the letter, you should include as much of the following information as possible:

  • Contact info: Your full name, address, the telephone/video phone numbers where the DOJ can reach you during the day and evening, and the name of the party who was discriminated against (if it is not you)
  • Alleged actors: The name, address and contact information of the business, entity, agency, organization, or person that you believe has committed the discrimination
  • Witnesses: The name, address and contact information of any witnesses who could provide relevant information regarding the alleged acts of discrimination
  • Description: A brief description of the acts of discrimination, the dates they occurred, and the names of individuals involved
  • Other info: Other information you believe necessary to support your complaint, including copies (not originals) of relevant documents
  • Communication preferences: Information about how to communicate with you effectively. For example, do you need written communications in a specific format (e.g., large print, Braille, electronic documents) or require communications by video phone or TTY?

File by Phone

You could also file a complaint by telephone by calling 202-307-0663 or by TTY at 1-800-514-0383. Be sure to inform the DOJ representative that you are calling to file an ADA complaint, and if you need to file the complaint by phone as a disability-related accommodation, be sure to inform them of this as well. Make sure you document who you spoke with, and the day and time of the conversation. Also request that you get confirmation in writing that your complaint has been filed.

What to Expect After You File a Complaint with the DOJ

The Disability Rights Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division will consider your complaint and inform you of its action. The authority for collecting this information is contained in 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b). The DOJ will investigate the complaint and determine whether to begin enforcement actions against the alleged discriminatory actors, including possible litigation. The DOJ will not necessarily make a determination on each complaint about whether or not there is an ADA violation. If the DOJ believes there is a pattern or practice of discrimination, or the complaint raises an issue of general public importance, it may attempt to negotiate a settlement of the matter, or it may bring an action in the U. S. District Court. Any such action would be taken on behalf of the United States; the DOJ does not act as your attorney or your representative in the complaint. However, you also have the option of filing your own case in U.S. District Court.

Sometimes the DOJ will refer complaints to the Key Bridge Mediation Program. Through this program, if both parties agree, the complaint will be assigned to a mediator. The mediator will help the parties resolve the complaint by facilitating a mediation. A mediation is a structured, yet more informal process than going to court, in which the parties have the opportunity to negotiate some terms to reach a legally binding settlement agreement. If you are interested in attempting mediation, we recommend that you let the DOJ know of this in the complaint by including language like, “I am requesting that this complaint be considered for mediation.”

The DOJ needs all of this information in order to investigate your complaint. The personal information will be used primarily for authorized civil rights compliance and enforcement activities conducted by the DOJ. They will not disclose the name of, or other identifying information about, an individual unless it is necessary for enforcement activities against an entity alleged to have violated federal law, or unless such information is required to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, or as is allowed through the publication of a routine use in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a.

To further the DOJ’s enforcement activities, information about you may be given to appropriate federal, state, or local agencies. Additional disclosures of information may be made to:

  • members of Congress or staff;
  • volunteer student workers within the DOJ so that they may perform their duties;
  • the news media when release is made consistent with the Freedom of Information Act and 28 C.F.R. 40.2; and
  • the National Archives and Records Administration and General Services Administration to perform records management inspection functions in accordance with their statutory responsibilities.

Furnishing of the requested information is voluntary except that the failure to provide such information may result in the DOJ being unable to process your complaint.

Note: For information regarding filing of Title I complaints (employment), see our handout on Employment Discrimination.


Last updated: January 11, 2021
Publication Code: AC1

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Disclaimer: Disability Rights Texas strives to update its materials on an annual basis, and this handout is based upon the law at the time it was written. The law changes frequently and is subject to various interpretations by different courts. Future changes in the law may make some information in this handout inaccurate.

The handout is not intended to and does not replace an attorney’s advice or assistance based on your particular situation.

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