VERMONT JUDICIARY PUBLIC NOTICE OF NON-DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF DISABILITY AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
I. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND POLICY
The mission of the Vermont Judiciary is to provide equal access to justice, protect individual rights, resolve legal disputes fairly and timely, and provide everyone the opportunity to have their day in court. The Vermont Judiciary advises its employees, volunteers, and members of the public that it does not discriminate on the basis of a person’s disability in employment or in access to its programs, services, and activities. It is the policy of the Vermont Judiciary to maintain an environment free of discrimination against persons with disabilities. All court users, including employees of the Vermont Judiciary, are required to comply with this policy.
II. REQUESTS FOR REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION
a. Types of Available Accommodations
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law prohibiting discrimination against qualified persons with disabilities. The Vermont Judiciary is committed to fully complying with the ADA by providing services, programs and activities in a way that assures equal and full access for all court users. Vermont’s courts will, upon request, provide appropriate aids and services in order to facilitate effective communication for qualified persons with disabilities so they can participate equally in the Judiciary’s programs, services, and activities. The types of aids and services available may include qualified interpreters, Computer Aided Real-Time Transcription (CART) services, video interpreting services, assistive listening headsets, audio recordings, large print, or electronic formats. The Judiciary will also make reasonable modifications to its policies, practices, and procedures where necessary to make the Judiciary’s programs, services, or activities accessible to a person with a disability. For example, individuals may enter court premises with service animals even where pets are generally prohibited, so long as the animal does not create a legitimate safety risk or fundamentally alter the nature of the Judiciary’s programs, services, or activities. Aids, services, and other accommodations are provided by the Judiciary at no cost to court users.
The ADA does not require the Vermont Judiciary to take any action that would fundamentally alter the nature of its services, programs, or activities, or would result in an undue financial or administrative burden. The ADA also does not require the court to provide services of a personal nature, such as medical or attendant care. Court personnel are not permitted to provide legal advice as an ADA accommodation. The ADA also does not require the Vermont Judiciary to attempt to change existing Vermont law or change a prior ruling of a Vermont court.
b. Accommodation Requests
Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service for effective communication, or a modification of policies, practices, or procedures to participate in a program, service, or activity of the Judiciary, may fill out a Request for Reasonable Accommodation form. The form is available on the Vermont Judiciary’s website. Completed forms should be returned to the main window in your local courthouse or to any Judiciary employee. You should submit your Request form or contact the ADA Coordinator as soon as possible, but no later than 72 hours prior to the need for the accommodation.
c. Vermont Judiciary's ADA Coordinator
The Vermont Judiciary has designated an ADA Coordinator to coordinate its efforts to comply with the requirements of the ADA and other federal and state laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities. Inquiries, requests, and complaints that a program, service, or activity of a particular court is not accessible to persons with disabilities should be directed to the ADA Coordinator:
John McGlynn, Human Resources Manager
(802) 828-4776 or firstname.lastname@example.org
III. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE UNDER THE ADA
This grievance procedure is established to provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints by members of the public alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It may be used by any member of the public claiming discrimination on the basis of disability in the provision of services, programs, or activities of the Vermont Judiciary.
Complaints by members of the public alleging discrimination on the basis of disability should be submitted by the complainant and/or his or her designee as soon as possible but not later than thirty (30) calendar days after the occurrence of the alleged discrimination. Complaints should be submitted on the Complaint & Appeal Form, which is available on the Judiciary website. Alternative means of filing a complaint, such as by personal interview, will be made available for persons with disabilities requiring the use of such alternate means upon request.
Upon receiving the complaint, the ADA Coordinator or his or her designee shall coordinate with the appropriate court personnel to promptly investigate the complaint by interviewing, where necessary and as appropriate, the relevant court staff and/or the complainant. Within 30 calendar days of receipt of the complaint, the ADA coordinator or his or her designee will respond in writing and, where appropriate, in a format accessible to the complainant. The response shall explain the position of the Judiciary and offer options, if any, for resolution of the complaint.
If the response by the ADA Coordinator or the ADA Coordinator’s designee does not satisfactorily resolve the issue, the complainant and/or the complainant’s designee may appeal the decision to the Chief of Trial Court Operations within 15 calendar days after receipt response. Any appeal must be in writing. Alternative means of filing an appeal, such as personal interviews or a tape recording of the appeal, will be made available for persons with disabilities requiring use of such alternate means upon request. Within 21 calendar days after receipt of the appeal, the Chief, Trial Court Operations (C-TCO) or his or her designee may contact the complainant to discuss the complaint and possible resolutions, if the C-TCO or designee determines such a meeting would be helpful to the determination of the appeal.
Within 21 calendar days after the meeting, or within 30 days after receipt of the appeal if there is no meeting, the C-TCO or the designee will respond in writing and, where appropriate, in a format accessible to the complainant, with a final resolution of the appeal. The decision of the C-TCO, or his or her designee, shall be final and conclusive for purposes of this grievance procedure.
The ADA Coordinator shall maintain all records related to a complaint under this policy for at least three years.
All actions taken to investigate and resolve complaints through this procedure shall be conducted with as much confidentiality as possible without compromising the thoroughness of the investigation. This grievance procedure is designed to encourage reporting of incidents of alleged discrimination against persons with disabilities.
IV. NOT EXCLUSIVE REMEDY
The use of this procedure does not preclude persons who believe they have experienced unlawful discrimination from pursuing any other legal remedy.