ADA Reform

Issue Summary

Implementing ADA Position: The ADA and Unruh Civil Rights Act were enacted with the intent to improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities and to prevent discrimination on that basis. It is unlikely, if not impossible, that the intent was ever to create a lucrative litigation tool for attorneys to use for technical construction-related violations, such as the wrong height of a bathroom mirror or the wrong shade of color on a parking lot striping. These types of lawsuits actually weaken the rights of the disabled community as the unfortunate, targeted businesses spend more money on litigation fees and costs rather than improving their business to remove any actual physical barriers that prevent members of the disabled community from entering the establishments.

The law needs to be reformed in an effective manner that maintains the right for individuals with disabilities to have equal access, but also protects businesses from predatory lawsuits. Although disability rights advocates have opposed past efforts to allow a business to cure a violation before being hit with litigation, claiming that businesses will wait for litigation before complying with the law, it seems as if this may be an area worth exploring. For those violations that truly are technical and do not deny an individual with a disability the opportunity to gain access to a business, there should be a right for the business to cure the violation before being sued. Such a right would reduce predatory lawsuits while improving overall access for persons with disabilities. Implementing ADA 

ADA Compliance and Litigation Update

ADA Compliance and Litigation Update - October 2013

Landmark Reform Law Advances Disability Access, Helps Business

For a number of years, the business community has been victim to a small but widely destructive, atypical group of plaintiffs and lawyers using the disability laws and court system to seek monetary profits rather than access. The result has been unnecessary, costly litigation for significant numbers of California businesses across the state, and many of them closing their doors for good.

The CalChamber, during the 2007-08 legislative session, worked closely with legislators and their staff, other business groups, disability rights groups and the consumer attorneys to achieve historic, comprehensive reform of California's disability access laws. The bipartisan measure, SB 1608 (Corbett; D-San Leandro, Chapter 549, Statutes of 2008), was designed to promote and increase compliance with laws providing public access to individuals with disabilities, while reducing unwarranted litigation that does not advance that goal.

The CalChamber worked to promote and support successful and effective implementation of SB 1608 within the business community and elsewhere.

In 2012, CalChamber-supported legislation to limit frivolous litigation connected with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. SB 1186 (Steinberg; D-Sacramento; Chapter 383, Statutes of 2012) also promotes increased compliance with disability accessibility building codes throughout the state.

Goal

Support comprehensive reforms to state disability laws that encourage and facilitate greater compliance by businesses with disability access laws; encourage resolution of access violations without use of litigation; and seek to reduce abusive and unwarranted demands for money and lawsuits under disability laws that seek to extract monetary settlements rather than improve access.

Major Victories

  • Backed legislation signed into law that limits frivolous litigation connected with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including prohibiting prelitigation “demands for money” by attorneys (SB 1186 of 2012).
  • Collaborated on shaping bipartisan, comprehensive reform increasing public access for individuals with disabilities while reducing unwarranted litigation (SB 1608 of 2008).

Related Top Stories

Policy Contact

Jennifer Barrera
Policy Advocate
Labor and Employment, Legal,
Taxation
 


 
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