“My business is being sued under the Americans With Disabilities Act: what can I do?” Business owners should be aware that they have a responsibility under the Americans With Disabilities Act (commonly called the ADA) to make sure that they have made reasonable accommodations for the disabled. What it is VERY important to understand that this obligation is a strict liability violation (no fault is required) and even if the building your business is located in is “grandfathered in” by being built prior to the ADA enactment or under a earlier, less stringent version, you are still required to make “reasonable” changes to match the letter of the current law. I strongly recommend that you have an inspection conducted of your business by a CASp inspector (Certified Access Specialist program) who can review the current regulations and recommend changes needed. Many times the changes are affordable and give you protection against a lawsuit. You should keep in mind that the requirement is for “reasonable” accommodations—if a change is extremely expensive or difficult, you will probably not be required to make it, but you will be required to make changes that can be done with a reasonable amount of difficulty and expense. One thing that angers business owners is that they are often sued for ADA violations by someone who has sued many other businesses, sometimes all over the state. Visits to business and restaurants are often solely for the purpose of documenting ADA violations. Unfortunately, at this time, this type of conduct on behalf of a plaintiff is not a valid defense. There may be future changes to the law to prevent abuses, but at this time, the safest and least expensive route (lawsuits are not cheap to defend) is to have an inspection done and make the necessary changes in advance.
DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.