Sample Grievance Procedure
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Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
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Designation of Responsible Person
Internal Grievance Procedure
_____ Judicial Circuit
Federal regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires public entities with 50 or more employees to designate a responsible employee and adopt grievance procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging noncompliance or complaints alleging any actions that would be prohibited under Title II of the ADA. (28 C.F.R. §35.107)
II. Intent and Purpose
It is the intent of the _____ Judicial Circuit to fully comply with the ADA and to assure equity, fairness, and full participation in the judicial system for persons with disabilities.
The purpose of this procedure is to establish a mechanism for resolving complaints without requiring the complainant to resort to federal complaint procedures. However, complainants would not be required to exhaust this grievance procedure before they could file a complaint at the federal level.
It is the intent of the _____ Judicial Circuit that complainants be consulted and advised, and that communications be maintained, at each step of the grievance process. It is further the intent of the _____ Judicial Circuit to engage alternative dispute resolution techniques whenever necessary, and at any point in the grievance process.
A. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—Public Law 101-336, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.
B. ADA Coordinator—Same as "Responsible Employee."
C. Disability or Persons with Disabilities—With respect to an individual, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment as defined in Public Law 101-336 and 28 C.F.R. §35.104.
D. Grievance—A formal complaint made by a person, or on behalf of a person, alleging that he or she has been subjected to unlawful discrimination, or inaccessibility to facilities, programs, services, benefits, or activities on the basis of a disability.
E. Legal Affairs—Formally called Legal Affairs and Education, one of three operational divisions of the Office of the State Courts Administrator, Supreme Court of Florida, Tallahassee.
F. Office of the State Courts Administrator (OSCA)—The administrative office of the Supreme Court of Florida, Tallahassee, which serves as the liaison between the Supreme Court and other court entities and other branches of government.
G. Responsible Employee—An employee designated to coordinate a public entity's efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under Title II of the ADA. These responsibilities include any investigation and/or follow through of any complaint alleging noncompliance or alleging any actions that would be prohibited by Title II of the ADA.
H. State Courts System—All Florida courts at both appellate and trial levels.
I. Title II—The second section of the ADA that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in state and local government services.
IV. Designation of Responsible Person
The ADA coordinator for the _____ Judicial Circuit is:
City, Florida Zip
A complaint shall contain the following minimum information:
A. Name, address, and telephone number of the complainant on whose behalf the complaint is being made.
B. The court facility in which the violation is alleged to have occurred.
C. A complete statement of the grievance and the facts upon which it is based.
D. The desired remedy or solution requested.
E. The names of any witnesses who can provide supportive or relative information.
VI. Procedure for Grievances Relating to the _____ Judicial Circuit
1. Complaints must be filed with the ADA coordinator no later than one hundred eighty (180) days from the date of the alleged discrimination.
2. The filing deadline may be extended upon a show of good cause.
B. Assessment and Determination of Team Members
1. The ADA coordinator will determine which function(s) of the court is at issue: facilities, programs, services, benefits, or activities.
2. The ADA coordinator will notify the chief judge and the court administrator of the complaint.
3. A team consisting of at least three (3) people, one of which must be the ADA coordinator, shall address the complaint. Individual(s) who are charged in the complaint with alleged discriminatory conduct shall not be a member of the team.
4. The team will involve representatives from county government entities in the resolution of the complaint when the complaint involves a court facility, program, service, benefit, or activity that is under the authority or provided by county government.
C. Fact Finding
1. The team, or a member of the team, will review the complaint with the complainant.
2. The team, or a member of the team, will interview witnesses who can provide supportive or relative information and complete the fact finding.
D. Test of Legal Sufficiency
1. The team, or a member of the team, shall determine the legal sufficiency of the complaint. In making this determination the team shall consider a consultation with a member of Legal Affairs.
1. If a complaint is legally deficient, the complaint shall immediately be brought to closure.
2. If a complaint is legally sufficient, the team will establish a course of action to resolve the complaint.
3. To the extent necessary, the court will make reasonable modifications to its programs, services, benefits, and activities to ensure future compliance with the ADA.
4. When appropriate, and to the extent necessary, the court will work with county government to make reasonable modifications to court facilities, programs, services, benefits, and activities that are under the authority or provided by county government to ensure future compliance with the ADA.
5. The court may invoke the course of action described in the regulations implementing the ADA (28 C.F.R. §35.164) when modifications would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a service, program, or activity or in undue financial and administrative burdens.
F. Closure, Notification, and Records Retention
1. The ADA coordinator shall communicate the results of the investigation and the chosen course of action to the complainant not later than thirty (30) working days from the date the complaint was filed.
2. In instances where a grievance against the _____ Judicial Circuit is filed via the ADA coordinator of the State Courts System, the ADA coordinator shall also communicate the results of the investigation and the chosen course of action to the ADA coordinator of the State Courts System not later than thirty (30) working days from the date the complaint was filed.
3. A record of the grievance shall be maintained for three (3) years; the record shall be located with the ADA coordinator.
Policy on Court Real-Time Transcription Services
For Persons Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing 1
It is the policy of the Florida State Courts System that all judges and court staff will abide by the following guidelines in those court proceedings where real-time transcription services are utilized as a reasonable and necessary method of ensuring effective participation by a party, witness, attorney, judge, court employee, juror, or other participant who is deaf or hard of hearing and entitled to auxiliary aids or services pursuant to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990:
1. Real-time transcription services should be performed by a court reporter who is specially trained in this skill.
2. The device selected should display text in a manner that accomplishes full access to the service and should be a non-glare, display-type computer monitor; a large-screen image from a data projection panel and overhead projector; or other device that ensures effective communication. It is recommended that the monitor be 15 inches or larger. The size of the monitor should take into account the number of persons viewing it. The display of the text should be dark letters on a light background, double spaced, with mixed case as appropriate for the context of the proceedings. The display font or type size should be a minimum of 18 points. The real-time transcription service should display not less than four (4) and no more than 17 lines of text at any one time. The display view should be limited to text that relates to the real-time transcription service; no system information should be visible to the user.
3. Text displayed on the monitor should appear within three (3) seconds from the time of steno-type input. This time frame requirement includes time for any and all related spell checks including phonetic translation for untranslates.
4. At the commencement of the proceeding, the court should determine whether effective communication is occurring. The court should instruct the person receiving the service and other participants in the proceeding to alert the court should a translation or other problem occur that impedes the person receiving the service from effectively participating in that person's appropriate role in the proceeding. Furthermore, if the court reporter becomes aware that an unacceptable number of untranslates or other problem is occurring with the real-time transcription service, the court reporter should immediately alert the court. Should the real-time transcription service become ineffective, the court should determine the cause of the problem and implement any corrective action the court deems reasonable or necessary.
5. The reporter, prior to the beginning of the proceeding, should review the case file and build a good client/job dictionary. This same job dictionary should be used at each subsequent proceeding in a particular case. The job dictionary should be updated during the course of the proceeding to include untranslates that may be corrected by any of the parties during the proceedings. Such updates should be operable throughout the remainder of the proceeding's real-time transcription service and carried over to any future proceedings.
6. The real-time transcription service and corrections that were displayed on the screen or monitor during the proceeding must be preserved in a manner to reflect what was actually displayed. Any corrections that were not viewed but that later become a part of the official court record must be maintained separately from the record of displayed text. At the conclusion of any proceeding (other than juror deliberations) in which real-time transcription service has been provided to ensure effective communication for a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, the reporter shall preserve the record of the real-time transcription service in accordance with rule 2.075(e), Florida Rules of Judicial Administration, unless otherwise directed by the court.
7. If real-time transcription services are required for a juror who is deaf or hard of hearing, a court reporter shall be present in the jury room during jury deliberations. The role of the reporter, when in the jury room, is not as a reporter of the official record; therefore the real-time transcription service of jury deliberations must be deleted immediately upon the conclusion of jury deliberation. The reporter shall not counsel, advise, attempt to explain terms, or interject personal opinion. Furthermore, the reporter shall not read back the real-time transcription service from the proceeding or jury deliberations without express judicial approval or authorization.
Proposed Guidelines for Provision of Interpreters
For Persons with Hearing Impairments 2
The court will ensure that communications in judicial proceedings, court services, programs, and activities involving persons who are deaf or hard of hearing are as effective as communications with other participants. This requirement applies to defendants, litigants, witnesses, jurors, attorneys, and observers. In those proceedings requiring an interpreter, the services of a qualified interpreter shall be secured. Qualified interpreter is defined as an interpreter who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. In judicial settings, court programs, services and activities, this may mean that the interpreter will need to interpret complex legal terminology.
Obtaining Interpreter Services
Upon becoming aware of the need of such a participant for an interpreter, the court or its designated representative will take the necessary steps to obtain a qualified interpreter. Before determining the type of interpreter services to be secured, the court or its designated representative will confer with the individual with a disability or the individual's legal counsel regarding his or her mode of communication in order to determine the type of interpreter services required. Types to be considered include, but are not limited to, American Sign Language, signed English, fingerspelling, oral, tactile, and cued speech. Some individuals may have unique needs due to educational, cultural, or additional disability factors which may require creative solutions; examples include an individual who uses "home signs" because of a lack of significant exposure to standard communication modes used by individuals who are deaf; individuals who use a foreign sign language; and individuals with physical disabilities which affect their expressive language.
The court or its designee will then determine the date, time, and place where such services will be required. The court will then secure an interpreter who is capable of providing these services and negotiate payment terms from appropriate budgeted funds.
In selecting the interpreter, the preference is that the interpreter be certified by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (NRID) except in those cases where the unique communication needs of the individual cannot be met by such nationally certified interpreters. The preferred certification level is CS:L (Certificate of Skills: Legal). The second level preference is CLIP (Certified Legal Interpreter, Provision). The third level of preference is either CSC (Comprehensive Skills Certification), or CI/CT (Certificate of Interpretation and Certificate of Transliteration); or Oral Skills Certification for individuals requiring an oral interpreter. Individuals holding other certifications issued by NRID may be considered. The court should be aware that it may be necessary to pay travel expenses when such certified interpreters are not locally available. When individuals holding the preferred certifications are not reasonably available, persons who can document substantial experience as interpreters may be considered. When individuals who do not hold NRID certification are used, the court has a responsibility to ensure that the interpreter clearly understands the role of the interpreter in the judicial setting and to ensure that the communication is effective prior to securing his/her services.
For individuals with unique communication needs (cued speech, "home signs," foreign sign language, physical disabilities which affect expressive communication, etc.), solutions may include recruitment of individuals with those particular skills to serve as interpreters; utilization of interpreter pairs which include both a nationally certified interpreter and an individual with the ability to convey or receive communication in the mode of the person with the disabilities; and consideration of alternate means such as real-time transcription. In all cases, the court has the responsibility to ensure that effective communication can occur.
The court may not require an individual to bring his or her own family member or friends to interpret. If a person who has a hearing impairment brings his or her own interpreter, the procedure for determining whether that individual is a qualified interpreter is described in the next section.
The court should be aware that interpreting requires intense mental concentration. In situations that involve more than two hours of interpreting without significant breaks, two interpreters, who take turns (usually in 20-minute shifts), may be necessary to assure effective communication. Additional interpreters may also be necessary to ensure that participants have an opportunity to confer with legal counsel during a proceeding.
Verification of Qualifications
Upon the date, place, and time noted, and prior to continuing with any proceeding, the court or other designated official will inquire of the person with hearing impairment, through the interpreter, whether the individual is confident that the interpreter's skills will ensure an adequate and accurate interpretation of the proceedings, and whether or not the individual feels that the interpreter is impartial. If either of those questions are answered in the negative, further efforts will be made by the court or its designee to determine if there is a reasonable basis to the objection. The court should exercise caution in evaluating the potential for a conflict of interest or for bias when determining whether a family member, friend, or acquaintance is a qualified interpreter as defined in the standard. If there is such a reasonable basis, the court shall take whatever steps are necessary to acquire a qualified interpreter.
The court will inquire of each interpreter whether he or she will be able to interpret the proceedings. The court may wish to ascertain that the interpreter is qualified through further questions about the interpreter's awareness of the responsibility of the interpreter to accept the assignment using discretion with regard to personal skill, the setting, and the consumers involved. The court may also inquire of the interpreter whether, in his or her best judgement feels that he or she will be able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially in the proceedings.
When a question remains or a question arises as to whether the interpreter is qualified, the court may consider enlisting assistance from one or more persons qualified to evaluate interpreting skills and situations. The proceedings will continue unless the interpreter is unable to satisfy the criteria for a qualified interpreter, at which time a qualified interpreter will be obtained.
In the event the individual brings his or her own interpreter to any proceedings, the court or its designee will ask the individual if the interpreter's skills will ensure an adequate and accurate interpretation of the communication of the proceeding, and whether or not the individual feels the interpreter is impartial. The court will also make inquiries of the interpreter as described in the previous paragraph. Again, the court should exercise caution in evaluating the potential for a conflict of interest or for bias when determining whether a family member or friend is a qualified interpreter. If the court is satisfied that the interpreter is qualified, the court will cover the reasonable cost of interpreting services and the proceedings will continue. Otherwise, the court or its designee will obtain a qualified interpreter.
The court, by and through the Chief Judge, will cause these procedures to be distributed to all judges and staff of the judiciary and will ensure that notice is given to the public about how to request accommodations including interpreters. Upon request, the coordinator for the Americans with Disabilities Act will be available to answer all inquiries and will obtain sufficient training materials on the requirements for effective communication.
1. Adopted on June 28, 1996, by administrative order of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida.
2. The January 1, 1994, Action Plan of the Supreme Court of Florida Committee on Court-Related Needs of the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities proposed that these guidelines be adopted by each court.