Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating against persons with disabilities. After the ADA was signed into law in 1990, businesses primarily focused on ensuring their physical locations complied with the access requirements and technical standards of the law. Even today, claims regarding physical access to facilities continue to be filed in significant numbers, as ADA compliance is complicated and challenging.
However, the rise of the Internet created new issues of accessibility affecting digital assets and virtual spaces. With the dominance of online retail and new shopping habits adopted by many Americans, the United States has seen explosive growth in ADA Title III lawsuits and demand letters related to websites, mobile applications and reservation systems for hotels and other places of lodging. Businesses also are targeted for ADA claims regarding service animals, effective communication (e.g., sign language interpreters), self-service kiosks and gift cards.
Depending upon the jurisdiction, ADA litigation can often include claims under similar state and local laws, such as California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, New York State’s Human Rights Law and New York City’s Human Rights Law. These laws provide for monetary damages in addition to attorneys’ fees that may be awarded to prevailing plaintiffs under the ADA.
Given the ease by which ADA claims are asserted, businesses of all sizes and industries are potential targets by serial plaintiffs and disability rights advocates. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has conducted investigations into businesses’ ADA compliance and filed enforcement actions. These matters can be time-consuming and expensive, involving litigation, reputational mitigation, compliance and other costs.
Fox Rothschild attorneys represent clients across the business spectrum in Title III litigation. We have assisted:
- Retail establishments and shopping centers
- Hotels and resorts
- Professional service providers
- Financial institutions
- Property developers
- Colleges and universities
- Hospitals and other health care providers
Our team has successfully defended or resolved hundreds of ADA single plaintiff and class action lawsuits across the United States, including in New York, California and Florida, which are the most active jurisdictions for ADA Title III litigation. We also have handled DOJ compliance investigations. We have developed proactive strategies to help our clients effectively and efficiently resolve these matters, minimize risk and liability and defend their businesses.
Our services include:
- Litigation strategy tailored for each type of ADA claim, including access claims based upon website and mobile application accessibility and in-person physical barriers
- ADA compliance counseling, including advising on the applicable legal requirements and standards, risk evaluation and mitigation, policy development and training
- Evaluation of and collaboration with experts in both physical and digital accessibility as well as web designers, architects, engineers and other experts who can assist with remedial and ongoing compliance efforts
- Legal counsel for compliance investigations conducted by the DOJ
- Guidance to industry groups on legislation reform efforts concerning accessibility laws
As the plaintiffs’ bar becomes more aggressive and willing to sue businesses repeatedly for alleged access barriers, working with experienced counsel who understand their tactics and know how to aggressively defend against these claims, as well as negotiate favorable resolutions and minimize the risk of future lawsuits, is critically important.
Our team is comprised of experienced counselors and litigators who zealously defend our clients’ business interests while considering the need for risk management and overall liability reduction, whether our client is a multinational entity with significant resources or a local business with more limited means.