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Save Your Website from ADA Lawsuits

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on disability, which involves ensuring that everyone has reasonable access to all areas of public life. Although the ADA doesn’t explicitly mention the internet, the federal government has taken the position that Title III of the ADA covers access to websites of public accommodations, including service and rental establishments, retail stores, educational institutions and recreational facilities.

Currently, ADA website compliance is only mandatory for government-managed websites. However, the absence of laws enforcing ADA compliance for websites of public accommodations hasn’t prevented people from filing lawsuits against companies that don’t meet the suggested guidelines.

Businesses in health care, government and education have been the most common targets of these lawsuits. Attorneys looking for easy money typically target small businesses’ websites by offering a low settlement fee. If your business is targeted by an ADA website compliance grievance, consider taking the following steps in response:

1. Review the grievance for credibility. A lawsuit may likely begin by citing “violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title 42 U.S.C. 12101 and 12181.” It may also include an inexpensive settlement option—a prime indicator that the lawsuit has no legs to stand on and is likely a scam.
2. Consult a lawyer. Doing so will help determine the credibility of the threat and stop future threats to your business.
3. Respond to the plaintiff. Ask your attorney to draft something explaining that you’ve reviewed their grievance and consulted a lawyer. Realizing that you’ve sought legal help may scare away anyone trying to file a lawsuit.
4. Update your website. Do this regardless of whether there is a legal need. If your site is easily accessible by people with disabilities, you may see beneficial returns from those users.

Filed under: Cyber Liability — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 9:28 pm July 3, 2018