How to File a Complaint

Is something not up to ADA standards? Do you want to file a complaint? If yes, start by figuring out which agency you should complain to. For example, to report a problem with public transportation, you probably need to file a Title II complaint with the Federal Transit Administration. Or, if your concern is with private transportation, that falls under Title III and is enforced by the US Department of Justice.

This article has information about filing a complaint in the following areas: public entities and public accommodations, employment, housing, education, and transportation.

Public Entities and Public Accommodations

The first step is to figure out what piece of the law your complaint relates to:

  • A public entity (such as a state or local government facility, activity, or program): Title II of the ADA.
  • A public accommodation (for example, a store or medical office): Title III of the ADA.
  • A federal government facility, activity, or program: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 504 also covers entities that receive federal funding.

Once you know which piece of the law you want to complain about, you can file your complaint.

Title II Complaint about Voting

File a formal complaint with the Department of Justice Division of Civil Rights Voting Section at 800-253-3931 or by TTY at 800-877-267-8971. At this time, the linked-to page in this paragraph includes an email address and a web link to an online complaint form.

Title II or Title III Complaint

File through a private lawsuit in federal court or direct the complaint to the US Department of Justice. See the Department of Justice brief How to File an ADA Complaint with the US Department of Justice. This document has details about how to file online, by regular mail, or by fax.

The page Americans with Disabilities Act Discrimination Complaints is an online tool. It  asks a question about your complaint and then provides helpful information about filing the complaint.

For more information on filing a Title II ADA complaint, see Investigation of Complaints and Enforcement in the ADA Title II Technical Assistance Manual.

US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section _ NYA
Washington, DC 20530

800-514-0301 (voice), 800-514-0383 (TTY)

Section 504 Complaints

These must be made to the specific federal agency that oversees the program or funding.


Begin by determining which portion of the law your complaint falls under:

  • A private employer with 15 or more employees: Title I of the ADA
  • Federal agency: Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Any program or entity receiving federal financial assistance: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

ADA Complaints

You must file a charge with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of an alleged violation of the ADA. This deadline may be extended to 300 days if a state or local fair employment practices agency also has jurisdiction over the matter. Complaints may be filed in person, by mail, or by telephone by contacting the nearest EEOC office. This number is listed in most telephone directories under “US Government.”

For a great deal more information and assistance, visit the Contact EEOC page at the EEOC website.

800-669-4000 (voice), 800-669-6820 (TTY)

Section 501 Complaints

A federal employee must contact their agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) officer within 45 days of an alleged Section 501 violation.

Section 504 Complaints

These must be filed with the federal agency that funded the employer.


Housing complaints go to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). You can find more information on the Web or by phone.

800-669-9777 (voice), 800-927-9275 (TTY)


Begin by figuring out which portion of the law your complaint falls under:

  • Public school (K–12): Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title II of the ADA, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  • Public postsecondary education: Title II and Section 504.
  • Private school (K–12 and post-secondary) that is not operated by a religious entity: Private schools are covered by Title III. Private schools that receive federal funding are covered by Section 504.

Parents with an IDEA complaint can request a due process hearing and a review from the state educational agency if applicable in that state. They also can appeal the state agency̥’s decision in state or federal court.

For more information, contact the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS):

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
US Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-7100

202-245-7468 (voice)


Where and how to complain depends on the type of transportation that you want to complain about. Skim the headings below to find the best match for your complaint.

Motor Coach

Complaints go to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at 888-DOT-SAFT (888-368-7238) or online at the FMCSA National Consumer Complaint Database.

Public Intercity and High-Speed Rail Transportation

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Civil Rights is responsible for civil rights compliance and monitoring. This includes ensuring that providers of public intercity and high-speed rail transportation properly follow Title II of the ADA, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) ADA regulations, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

You can learn more about the complaint process at the Federal Railroad Administration’s ADA Complaint Format web page.

Complaints can be emailed to


The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) covers airlines. Its regulations clarify what animals are considered service animals and explain how each type of animal should be treated.

Submit ACAA complaints to the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

If you’ve experienced a disability-related air travel service problem, call 800-778-4838 (voice) or 800-455-9880 (TTY). To have the Department of Transportation (DOT) investigate a disability issue, submit your complaint to:

Aviation Consumer Protection Division
Attn: C-75-D
US Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, S.E.
Washington, DC 20590

Public Transportation (ADA Title II) and Section 504 Complaints

If you believe you have been discriminated against based on disability by a public transit agency, you may file an administrative complaint with the Federal Transit Administration’s Office of Civil Rights. Complaints should be filed within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination. You can find more information online at the FTA’s File a Complaint with FTA Web page.

Director, FTA Office of Civil Rights
East Building _ 5th Floor, TCR
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20590

FTA ADA Assistance Line: 888-446-4511 (voice)
800-877-8339 (Federal Information Relay Service)


Private Transportation (ADA Title III)

The US Department of Justice enforces Title III of the ADA, which applies to private transportation providers. Complaints may be filed with the Department of Justice. You can find more information at the website, in How to File an American’s with Disabilities Act Complaint with the US Department of Justice.

US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section _ NYA
Washington, DC 20530

800-514-0301 (voice), 800-514-0383 (TTY)

Note: A person does not have to file a complaint with the respective federal agency before filing a lawsuit in federal court.

The US Department of Transportation and the ADA

The following Department of Transportation administrations also have a role in ensuring ADA compliance:

  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): Ensures ADA compliance in the public right-of-way (roadway travel lanes, medians, planting strips, sidewalks) and on projects using federal surface transportation planning.
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA): Administers intercity and commuter rail compliance with ADA and Title VI Civil Rights requirements.
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA): The FTA’s Office of Civil Rights administers Title II public transportation laws related to public transportation services and facilities for people with disabilities.
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): The FMCSA administers DOT’s ADA regulations requiring accessible, timely OTRB service for passengers with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs for mobility.

When in Doubt

Sorting out where and how to file an ADA-related complaint is not always easy. It can be confusing to judge which part of the ADA or which law best matches your situation. It is important to know what your rights are, or are not, before you file. Whether it is about access, employment, education, or transportation, you can learn more by calling the Northeast ADA’s technical assistance line at 800-949-4232. You can also email us at


Would you like more information about the services we provide? Ask our technical assistance specialists.

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