# 137 III-1.2000 III-4.1000 III-4.


May 26, 1994

The Honorable Jim Leach Member, U.S. House of Representatives 102 South Clinton, #505 Iowa City, Iowa 52240-4025 Dear Congressman Leach: This is in response to your inquiry on behalf of your constituents, participants in the Iowa City Kickers Soccer Club ("Kickers"), regarding the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to such a club and the possible implications of the participation of individuals with disabilities in the club. The Kickers may be covered by title III of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by private entities that own, operate, or lease places of public accommodation. Places of entertainment, gathering, recreation, and exercise, such as sports facilities, are places of public accommodation. When the Kickers are using such facilities, they may be considered to be the operator of those facilities and, therefore, may be subject to title III. To the extent the Kickers are covered by title III of the ADA, they are prohibited from discriminating against prospective participants on the basis of disability. The second aspect of the issue your letter raises is the possibility that the Kickers will be denied liability insurance coverage because they allow individuals with disabilities to participate in their program. The club's insurance company may also be considered to be the operator of a place of public accommodation, i.e., an insurance office. Thus, the insurance

company may be prohibited by title III from discriminating on the basis of disability in making decisions to grant or deny coverage. The insurance company will not, however, be prohibited by the ADA from administering its benefit plan in accordance with State insurance laws. 28 C.F.R. 36.212. Therefore, State law may also play a significant role in the determination of the insurance company's duties regarding individuals with disabilities, but such State law may not be used as a subterfuge to evade the purposes of the ADA. Notably, assuming the insurance company were to deny liability coverage to the Kickers, the Kickers could not, under the ADA, use that denial as a basis for refusing to allow individuals with disabilities to participate in the soccer club. 28 C.F.R. 36.212(c). The final aspect raised by your letter is the possibility that the State and national soccer associations of which the Kickers are members may cancel the Kickers' membership because of the participation of an individual with a disability. The State and national associations would only be subject to title III to the extent they own, operate, lease, or lease to one or more places of public accommodation, e.g., soccer fields, tournaments, or meetings. To the extent such an association fell within title III, it would be prohibited from imposing eligibility criteria that exclude individuals with disabilities unless such criteria are necessary to the activity. In addition, the association would have to make reasonable modifications to its current policies, practices, and procedures in order to ensure participation of individuals with disabilities in the covered activities, unless making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the activities. Thus, for example, if a State or national soccer association operated a tournament in a facility that it owned, operated, or leased, the association may have to permit the participation of individuals with disabilities. To the extent membership in the association was a requirement for participation in the tournament, the association may need to reasonably modify its membership criteria so that they do not screen out individuals with disabilities. In the absence of a place of public accommodation owned, operated, or leased by the State or national association, however, the association's membership decisions may not be covered by the ADA. If the Kickers wish to have further information about the requirements of the ADA, they may contact our ADA information

line at 800/514-0301 (voice) or 800/514-0383 (TDD). I hope this information will be useful to you in responding to your constituents. Sincerely,

Deval L. Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division