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House of Representatives 188 East Main Street Abingdon, Virginia 24210 Dear Congressman Boucher: This letter is in response to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, XX who seeks information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). XX states that he is a quadriplegic and is unable to sign his own name, but his father has full power of attorney to sign XX name for him. XX asks whether a securities firm that has a policy of refusing to accept clients who cannot sign their own names is in violation of the ADA. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in commercial facilities and places of public accommodation, including financial institutions. Title III requires, among other things, that owners and operators of places of public accommodation make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices, and procedures, if those modifications are necessary to provide services to persons with disabilities. The only limits on this obligation are that the required modification must be reasonable and may not fundamentally alter the nature of the services provided at the place of public accommodation. A securities firm policy of accepting only clients who can sign their own names would be subject to the reasonable modification requirement. Absent an investigation, the Department cannot render an opinion on XX specific situation. The securities firm, however, would be required to modify its policy to allow a person with a valid power of attorney to sign a document on behalf of an individual who is unable to sign his or her own name because of a disability, if such a modification is reasonable and would not fundamentally alter the nature of the firm's services. cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, McDowney, Bowen, Novich, FOIA, MAF Udd:Novich:Congress:Boucher 01-03404
-2Title III can be enforced by private litigation, alternate dispute resolution such as mediation, or by filing a complaint with the Department of Justice. The Department is not able to investigate all the complaints of title III violations that it receives, and we have determined not to investigate this complaint. However, there are other entities that may be able to assist XX in resolving his complaint. We have enclosed a list of such entities located in Virginia. In addition, we are enclosing copies of two status reports that detail the actions that the Civil Rights Division has undertaken to enforce titles II and III of the ADA. These reports illustrate that, although the Department of Justice is unable to investigate every complaint that it receives, we are taking strong action to enforce the law. I hope this information is useful to you in responding to your constituent. If XX wishes to have further information about the requirements of the ADA, he may contact our ADA information line at (800) 514-0301/T.D.D. (800) 514-0383, weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST. I hope this information is useful to your constituent. Sincerely, Stuart J. Ishimaru Acting Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures 01-03405 RICK BOUCHER 9th District, Virginia COMMITTEES ENERGY AND COMMERCE JUDICIARY SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE ASSISTANT MAJORITY WHIP
Congress of the United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-4609 2245 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE B WASHINGTON DC 20515-4609 (202) 225-3861 (202) 225-0442 FAX CONSTITUENT SERVICE OF: 188 EAST MAIN STREET ABINGDON, VA 24210 (703) 628-1145 311 SHAWNEE AVENUE EAST BIG STONE GAP, VA 24219 (703) 523-5450 112 NORTH WASHINGTON AVE PO BOX 1258 PULASKI, VA 24301 (703) 980-4310 June 27, 1994 U. S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Public Access Section P.O. Box 66738 Washington, D.C. 20035 Dear Sir or Madam: Enclosed please find correspondence I received from Mr. XX of Marion, Virginia, concernign his inability to open an account with Waterhouse Securities, Inc. of New York. XX contacted my office on June 10, 1994, and advised that he was a paraplegic, therefore, his father has his full power-of-attorney. He had been attempting to open an account with the above-mentioned company, but was told that they would not accept a full power-of-attorney and that is was necessary for him to sign his name in order to open an account. I am concerned that XX is not being afforded the rights of other individuals based upon his inability to use his arms. I am further concerned that a company such as Waterhouse Securities, Inc. does not have in place contingency plans to allow disabled individuals to do business with their company. I would greatly appreciate your immediate and thorough
review of this matter, and advising me of the Department's findings. Please direct your reply to my Abingdon district office. Thanking you for your time and attention to this request, I am Sincerely, Rick Boucher Member of Congress Enclosure RB/km 01-03406 XX XX Marion, VA XX June 16, 1994 U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Public Access Section P.O. Box 66738 Washington, D.C. 20035 To Whom It May Concern: I am writing this letter at the request of Ms. Johanssen, Congressional Liaison with the Department of Justice. Congressman Rick Boucher's office had spoken to her after I contacted him concerning the following matter. My name is XX . I was paralyzed in an auto accident in 1972. I have absolutely no use of my arms or legs, but my mind is very alert. Since the accident my father has had my full power of attorney. We have a legal document drawn up by a lawyer, notarized by a notary public, and signed by witnesses. I take care of my own business decisions and my father signs all related material, XX for XX XX Power of Attorney. I wanted to open an account with the discount brokerage firm, Waterhouse Securities, based in New York, NY. They sent me an application, but since I cannot sign it myself, I called their
customer service department several times between May 31, 1994 and June 10, 1994 to ask for advice on how to fill out the application properly. Every customer representative I spoke with asked their supervisor what I should do, and they all came back with the answer, "If you cannot sign your own name, you cannot open an account with us. We do not accept your full power of attorney." Waterhouse Securities has their own limited power of attorney, but one has to be able to sign that form himself or it will not be accepted either. On June 10, 1994 I talked with a Regional Vice President, Mr. Eric Gerardi. I told him of the problem I was having in trying to open an account with the firm and asked if he could help. I explained to him that because of a physical disability I was unable to sign my own name. I told him my father has my full power of attorney. He gave me the same answer as before. It is not their policy to accept any full power of attorney. Therefore, I could not open an account with Waterhouse Securities, and he suggested I try another brokerage firm. 01-03407 By this time I was frustrated and angry, so I called Congressman Rick Boucher's office to inquire about the legality of this type of treatment. They felt it was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and offered to help. I received a letter on June 15 from Congressman Boucher informing me that Ms. Johanssen requested I provide the Department of Justice with a statement that describes the conversation between the individual at Waterhouse Securities and myself, when it transpired, my physical limitations, and the manner in which I handle my financial matters. Should a person be discriminated against because a physical disability renders him unable to sign his own name? If this is considered discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act can anything be done to resolve it? The only reason I am pursuing this matter is the principle. If you would wish to contact me by phone my number is XX Thank you for any assistance you may offer. Respectfully Yours,
XX FOR XX POWER OF ATTORNEY Waterhouse Securities, Inc. 100 Wall Street New York, NY 10005 (212)806-3586 Customer Service (800)934-4410 01-03408
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