Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The ADA - A Civil Rights Issue

Many of my clients do not understand that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of the most important pieces of CIVIL RIGHTS legislation of our time.   That’s right…….I said CIVIL RIGHTS.  Just as you would not deny access to a business based on race, religion, color or national origin, the ADA provides those same protections to those with disabilities.  It’s a misconception that the ADA is a building code.   While it is true that much of the ADA has been incorporated into the California and other Building Codes for newer buildings, this is not necessarily true for older buildings.

While it may not seem like it, many businesses continue to deny access to those with disabilities every day without even knowing it.   Examples include businesses with no accessible parking, stairs to the main entry doors and toilet rooms that are too small for those with disabilities.   Despite the fact that the ADA is over 20 years old, those with disabilities continue to find obstacles on a daily basis.   When a disabled person can not freely use your facility without encountering obstacles, then their civil rights have been violated and you could be subjected to a lawsuit for violations of the ADA.

Another misconception by many of my clients is that older buildings built before 1990 are granted “grandfather” status.   This is simply not true.   Any facility that serves the public including hotels, restaurants, theaters, gas stations, retail stores, beauty salons, to name just a few, must meet the requirements of the ADA regardless of age.   Even historic buildings must meet the requirements of the ADA, although to a lesser degree.

One of the reasons that serial plaintiffs are filing ADA lawsuits all over California is because as many as 98% of businesses in California have at least one violation of the ADA that could be the source of a lawsuit.   Despite many legislative changes, the serial plaintiffs are still at work filing lawsuits.   There is simply only one way to avoid a lawsuit…………conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

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