If your business or property is open to the public, it must meet certain accessibility standards created by federal and state law for people with disabilities. These requirements apply to a range of potential conditions which could limit accessibility, including such commonplace items as round doorknobs or faucet handles, unsecured floor mats, high customer service counters and/or doorway thresholds which are difficult to traverse. A majority of claims in these cases continue to involve parking areas.
In addition, accessibility standards may also apply to a range of non-physical issues, including, without limitation, a business’s policies and procedures, the accessibility of its website to people with visual or hearing limitations, and whether qualified service animals are permitted.
Many businesses find themselves facing lawsuits which contend that one or more applicable standards for disabled accessibility have not been met. In California, these lawsuits are even more prevalent due to money damages allowed under state law. Because many claimed that certain filers of these lawsuits exploited claims in these actions inappropriately, legislative reforms were passed in 2008, 2012, 2015 and again in 2016, to reduce the potential for misuse of these claims while still maintaining a strong incentive to make accessibility improvements.
Read about 2017 laws.
CalChamber thanks David W. Peters for his contributions to the Accessibility section of the HR Library.
Mr. Peters is CEO and General Counsel of California Justice Alliance, APC, a private law firm which assists defendants in ADA/accessibility lawsuits, particularly in situations where it appears that inappropriate use may be being made of important laws which are intended to protect people with disabilities.