1 April 2017
JMBM’s ADA Compliance and Defense team, led by my partner Marty Orlick, continues to help hotels and other businesses achieve compliance under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and is actively defending numerous ADA lawsuits brought against our clients.
As we predicted, more and more of these lawsuits allege that a company’s website and reservation system is not accessible to visually impaired customers. In his article below, Marty Orlick reports why a recent U.S. District Court decision may affect the future of ADA website litigation, and urges hoteliers to ensure their websites are accessible.
Judge Dismisses ADA Website Lawsuit
Martin H. Orlick, Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group
In September 2016, we published an alert that a group of plaintiff’s ADA lawyers had threatened a number of businesses – including hotels – with litigation claiming their websites failed to comply with “ADA Guidelines.” (Read ADA Compliance & Defense Lawyer: ADA Website Accessibility Lawsuits Escalate.) These lawsuits have since been filed with greater frequency.
Since then, a number of threats have turned into lawsuits seeking injunctive relief (website accessibility), a multiple of $4,000 minimum statutory damages under California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act (per visit to the website or from being deterred from visiting the website), attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.
Years ago, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) adopted rules requiring all federal agency websites to conform to the WCAG 2.0 A and AA Success Criteria as a means of providing accessible websites to persons who are blind, low vision, color blind or who suffer cognitive disabilities. In 2010, the DOJ issued a Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) stating that it intended to adopt formal ADA Guidelines for state and local government agencies to meet when designing websites. The DOJ intended to adopt the WCAG 2.0 A and AA Success Criteria for state and local government websites. Justice then announced that it intended to adopt these same basic standards for private businesses’ websites. But the DOJ withdrew its NOPR and has yet to issue final rules regarding web access standards for state and local agencies or private businesses.
ADA website lawsuit violates due process
Last week, in what is a ground breaking decision of particular importance to the hospitality industry, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California threw out a serial plaintiff’s lawsuit which alleged that Domino’s Pizza’s website violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related California anti-discrimination laws by not conforming to the WCAG 2.0 A and AA Success Criteria. CONTINUE READING →