Your first decision to make is whether to file your complaint with federally or locally. In the U.S., that choice is between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or your state's Human Rights Commission (HRC). Investigate both federal and state laws pertaining to public access. If you qualify under both sets of laws, you can choose which venue gives you the greater benefits. However, if you qualify under the ADA, but not under your state's laws, then you must file with the DOJ. Some states limit their protections to certain types of service dogs or only to program trained service dogs. So don't assume you are included without checking.
Filing federally typically takes longer, on average about three years. Filing on the state level typically takes less than a year.
The DOJ tends to take up only those cases which show a pattern of discrimination. In other words, not individual complaints, but complaints with multiple complainants.
Generally speaking you must choose one or the other: the DOJ or HRC, but not both.
PUBLIC ACCESS (PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION--TITLE III)
From the U.S. Department of Justice (http://www.ada.gov/t3compfm.htm):
If you feel you or another person have been discriminated against by an entity covered by title III, send a letter to the Department of Justice, at the address below, including the following information:
- Your full name, address, and telephone number, and the name of the party discriminated against;
- The name of the business, organization, or institution that you believe has discriminated;
- A description of the act or acts of discrimination, the date or dates of the discriminatory acts, and the name or names of the individuals who you believe discriminated; and
- Other information that you believe necessary to support your complaint. Please send copies of relevant documents. Do not send original documents. (Retain them.)
Sign and send the letter to the address below:
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights - NYAVE
Washington, D.C. 20530
You also have the right to file your claim in U.S. District Court. Details can be found at: http://www.ada.gov/t3compfm.htm
EMPLOYMENT (TITLE II)
TRANSPORTATION (TITLE III)