Due to additional Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations from 2010, many Arizona businesses could face an ADA lawsuit. Depending on what zip code you’re in – you could be next on the hit-list for a small handful of plaintiffs who have filed hundreds of ADA-related lawsuits against Arizona businesses in the past year.
As members of the Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Lohman Company and many other local businesses recently became aware of this issue, which could also affect you and your business. Earlier in July 2016, the Chamber held a meeting about this issue. The presentation highlighted parking lot compliance, which is the biggest target of these recent lawsuits – one person has filed over 800 lawsuits against businesses for ADA violations specific to their parking lots. Other ADA-compliance issues addressed in these recent lawsuits include accessibility of hotel pools, bars and restaurants, and bathrooms.
According to attorney Lindsay Leavitt, who has represented many businesses against these lawsuits, many business owners do not realize they aren’t in compliance. If you haven’t reviewed your accessibility in recent years, you could be targeted by a lawsuit.
Mr. Leavitt believes these plaintiffs are going zip code by zip code, seeking out businesses that aren’t in compliance with current ADA regulations, and filing lawsuits. Some of these plaintiffs are writing warning letters, giving business owners the opportunity to become compliant and avoid a lawsuit, but the majority of these lawsuits are being filed without prior warning to the business.
What You Should Know about ADA Standards
Most Americans are aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was originally passed in 1990, but few are familiar with its specific provisions as it relates to their own businesses. The act, which has five categories of provisions to protect disabled Americans from discrimination, was most recently updated in 2010 to include additional Standards for Accessible Design.
Title III of the act, which relates to public accommodations, includes a variety of public and private entities that are subject to having parking lots and other amenities adapted to specific standards in order to be considered in compliance with ADA.
Mr. Leavitt noted in an interview earlier this year that the 2010 changes can affect your business. He noted that most private businesses are subject to ADA standards, and not all of them realize their business must comply with the standards. Further, Mr. Leavitt stated that even if a building you own passed a building inspection, that doesn’t mean that it complies with ADA standards.
Mr. Leavitt has also written about this issue a few times this year. You may read his posts here, here, here, and here.
The best thing you can do to protect your business from one of these lawsuits is to be in compliance with the ADA standards. Even businesses that might have been thus far exempt from ADA-specific updates may still end up facing these lawsuits and be required to make adjustments. As Mr. Leavitt noted, the plaintiffs in these cases believe that since the ADA was passed over 25 years ago, businesses with existing structure exemptions should comply with the standards anyway because it is the law.
To get your business in compliance with the ADA standards, contact a consultant about an ADA audit. Lohman Company learned of some additional resources at the recent meeting held by the Mesa Chamber of Commerce, which are available here.