House Approves Changes to Americans With Disabilities Act
In February, the House officially passed a law aimed at amending the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If also approved by the Senate, the bill would require those who wish to file a claim against a business for a public accommodations violation to comply with a number of procedural requirements. Some critics have voiced concern, however, that if passed, the law would remove incentives for businesses to comply with the ADA and create unfair barriers for claimants suffering from discrimination. If you have concerns about how the potential passage of this law could affect your own claim or have questions about the ADA’s provisions, please contact a public accommodations attorney with the resources and experience necessary to assist you.
The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017
Under the terms of the recently passed bill, claimants wishing to file lawsuits against businesses that fail to provide public accommodations to those with disabilities must first take the following steps:
- Provide the business owner with a written notice, explaining the company’s violation;
- Give the business 60 days from the date of receipt of the notice to respond to the claimant by providing him or her with a written description that details the improvements that will be made to address the barrier; and
- Wait an additional 60 days from the claimant’s receipt of the business’s plan for the company to either remove the barrier entirely or at least make substantial progress on its removal.
Furthermore, a claimant’s written notice must contain specific information, including a description of the circumstances under which a person was actually denied access to a public accommodation. For example, each written notice must contain:
- The address of the property where the violation occurred;
- Details about whether a request for assistance was made to remove the barrier; and
- Information about whether the barrier was permanent or temporary in nature.
If enacted, this law could go into effect as soon as 30 days after its passage.
The Consequences of Enactment
Critics of the bill argue that there could be drastic consequences if these changes are enacted. For instance, some have expressed concern that the amendment removes the incentive for businesses to take proactive steps to make sure that their premises are accessible to everyone. Instead, companies will be incentivized to wait to make changes until they receive notice of a violation. Others are concerned that the changes would force those with disabilities to bear the responsibility of ensuring that businesses comply with the ADA.