We have recently been approached by clients looking to solve a new legal issue with their websites. THey were contacted by law firms asserting their websites are not accessible according to forthcoming rules under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title III covers “nondiscrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations and commercial facilities.”
What doesn’t this mean about your website?
If your company conducts any form of e-commerce or public service, the ADA is going to require that it be modified to accommodate individuals with disabilities. This is a bit confusing because the new rules have yet to be issued. In fact, the ADA has been deliberating on this matter and developing its new compliance rules for nearly a decade and last year announced those new rules wouldn’t be issued until sometime in 2018.
What is the Legal Risk?
The drive-by law firms around the country are rapidly seizing this opportunity. As the scheduled date for the new rules approaches things are beginning to heat up. If you are not aware of this development you can become familiar with the topic quickly by reading, “New Area of Focus in ADA Compliance,” and “Federal Lawsuits Spike; Community Banks Get Demand Letters.” For a little more depth on the topic you might also want to read, “The Focus of The ADA Turns To Websites In The Digital Age: Is Your Website Compliant?”
Class Action Lawsuits on the Rise
In an effort to create first-mover advantage several law firms are working to assemble federal class action lawsuits ahead of the rules update. It’s a fair bet based on recent legal activity that community banks and large retailers are prime targets for these lawsuits. Others will certainly follow.
Proactively review the matter of ADA compliance with your legal counsel, IT department, marketing communications team and certainly your web development partners at a minimum. The issue isn’t going away, and the Department of Justice takes a dim view of those companies that violate any aspect of the ADA.
According to Chain Store Age, the “DOJ fines have increased, with the first violation now at $75,000. All subsequent ones are $155,000 each. And there is the potential for compensatory and punitive damages.” The lawyers are lining up and the punishment is ready to deliver, so it would appear the stage is set for the other shoe to drop whenever the ADA gets around to dropping it.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding ADA Compliance, give us call at 904.494.8777.