New Bill May Limit Rights Under the ADA
The House Judiciary Committee is currently considering a bill known as the ADA Education and Reform Act, which if passed may end up complicating the process of filing claims against businesses who are allegedly failing to comply with “public access” section of the the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ADA requires that that restaurants, movie theaters, stores, and other businesses be accessible to those who have disabilities The law and regulations are very specific concerning what steps businesses must take to guarantee that their facilities are available to those with disabilities, for example, someone in a wheel chair. Currently, when a business or government body is not complying with ADA, a person can either:
- File a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ); or
- File a suit against the business in court.
A person filing a claim of discrimination with the DOJ can do so via mail, email, or fax, but must include specific information in the complaint, including:
- The filer’s name, address, and contact information;
- The name and address of the business or organization that has committed discrimination;
- A brief description of the acts of discrimination witnessed by the complainant, including the dates they occurred and the names of the individuals involved;
- Supporting evidence, including copies of important documents; and
- Information about how the DOJ can best communicate with the filer (e.g. written communications through electronic documents or via phone).
Once a complaint has been submitted, it can take up to three months before the DOJ will be able to issue a decision, which could include:
Referring the case to mediation;
Opening an investigation into the matter; or
Filing a federal lawsuit in court.
Alternatively, claimants can file a lawsuit directly in a U.S. District Court themselves. Generally, the claimant will need to include the same type of information as required by the DOJ filing process. However, claimants cannot file directly with the court concerning a business’s acts or commissions if they occurred before:
- July 1992 for businesses with fewer than 25 employees and gross receipts of $1,000,000 or less; or
- January 1993 for businesses with fewer than 10 employees and gross receipts of $500,000 or less.
The only exception to this rule is in cases where the complaint alleges discrimination based on new construction or alterations. Otherwise, the claimant will need to include the contact information of the alleged discriminatory organization as well as a description of the violation.
If passed, the ADA Education and Reform Act would require those with complaints against businesses to file a written notice of the claim with the business owners. The business owner would then have 180 days to make substantial progress toward correcting the violation before the claimant would be permitted to file a complaint with the DOJ or file a lawsuit directly in court. Opponents of the bill argue that the new requirements would place an undue burden on victims of discrimination, while also creating substantial obstacles to a disabled person’s ability to enforce their rights under the ADA.
Contact a Florida Public Accommodations Attorney Today
If you have faced discrimination based on your disability, please contact Saady & Saxe, P.A. Attorneys At Law by calling 813-909-8855 to speak with a knowledgeable and compassionate public accommodations attorney who can evaluate your case. Our Florida attorneys are eager to assist you today.