MYTHS ABOUT ADA COMPLIANCE
California law provides up to $4,000 or more in minimum damages – plus attorney fees – if someone with certain disabilities comes to your business and encounters a condition which was required to be changed. 25,000 to 35,000 ADA/accessibility lawsuits have been filed throughout California in the past few years.
“I am grandfathered”
- “Grandfathering” in building code does not apply to these civil rights claims.
- If you are open to the public, people with disabilities have a civil right to equal access to the goods and service you provide.
- To date, no business in California has successfully defended an ADA/accessibility claim on the basis of grandfathering.
“They have to send me a letter compliance letter before a lawsuit.”
- Currently, no civil rights law requires that a letter be sent before a lawsuit can be files.
- The laws were intended to have the changes be in place when a visitor arrives at the business.
“My building complied when it was built”
- Few building inspectors look for possible ADA compliance issues.
- Many businesses which pass California lottery and other inspections still have conditions which support these lawsuits.
“People with disabilities have come and gone for years without mentioning problems.”
- What does not necessarily cause a problem for one disability, may be a barrier for another.
- Some people don’t like to ask for special treatment or accommodations.
- Some people are concerned their comments won’t be well received.
“Whenever we see a wheelchair, we go out of our way to assist.”
- Though well received, polite offers do not make up for the need of special assistance.
- People with disabilities are entitled to leave and sue if they see a condition which could present problems for them.
- Many businesses that are sued never see the plaintiff.
“All they needed to do was ask.” “We have a ramp around back if they looked.”
- How would a new visitor know without a posted sign?
- People with respiratory or mobility problems should not be expected to go exploring to find an alternative.
- Will they feel like “second class” customers if required to use a rear entrance?
“These lawsuits were not intended by legislators or judges.”
- California legislators have declined to stop private enforcement of accessibility laws on 24 separate occasions.
“I’ll just follow the ADA codes.”
- California has a higher standard than the ADA, and some are directly conflicting.
- 98% of all California businesses are believed to have at least one condition which would support a $4,000 damage claim.
“I’ll just buy a temporary fix, I don’t have to make permanent improvements.”
- It is only appropriate to use “alternative fabrication” if you cannot afford to make appropriate, permanent changes, or if it is technically not feasible.
- If you claim you cannot afford it, you may be required to produce financials.
“My landlord indemnified me”
- Landlord and tenant will most likely be jointly and severably liable for access claims by people with disabilities; the procedure to apportion is costly.
“I was already sued and fixed all the items mentioned in the complaint.”
- Because a plaintiff can only seek changes relevant to their specific disability, most lawsuits and settlement agreements do not identify all issues which can lead to claims.
- A qualified plaintiff with disabilities will normally have standing to compel the removal of all conditions which could limit accessibility if they return; most plaintiffs only issue a complaint or two they observed which prompted them to file.
Contact our Solutions Team today to learn more about ADA signs.