Tampa & St. Petersburg Public Accommodations Attorney
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), requires private sector establishments to accommodate public consumers by removing physical, communication, and procedural barriers for those with disabilities. Many companies take great pains to ensure that their establishments are accessible by all members of the public. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, some companies are still faced with lawsuits alleging ADA violations, which can have devastating consequences for business owners, so if your company was recently accused of violating the ADA, it is critical to speak with an experienced Tampa public accommodations attorney who can explain your legal options and protect you from liability.
Who is Protected?
To fall under the civil rights protections offered by the ADA, a person must:
- Have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, including walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, working, or caring for oneself; or
- Have a record of such an impairment; or
- Be regarded as having an impairment.
Examples of covered impairments include:
- Speech, visual, and hearing conditions;
- Cerebral palsy;
- Muscular dystrophy;
- Mental illness;
- Specific learning disabilities; and
- HIV disease.
Individuals with these and other covered disabilities are guaranteed equal access to services and goods sold in public accommodations. However, those who do not fall under the definition of disabled cannot assert a claim of discrimination on their own behalf.
Public Accommodations Defined
According to the ADA, places of public accommodations include, but are not limited to the following locations:
- Retail stores;
- Shopping malls;
- Amusement parks;
- Private schools; and
- Health spas.
These types of establishments are required to take steps to:
- Provide goods and services in an integrated setting, unless separate measures are necessary to ensure equal opportunity;
- Eliminate unnecessary eligibility standards or rules that deny those with disabilities an opportunity to enjoy the goods or services offered;
- Make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures so that individuals with disabilities are not denied equal access to the goods and services offered;
- Provide auxiliary aids, such as assistive listening headsets, large print materials, and qualified interpreters to ensure effective communication;
- Remove architectural or structural communication barriers in existing facilities by installing ramps, rearranging furniture, widening doorways, installing grab bars, and adding raised letters or braille to elevator control buttons; and
- Make goods or services accessible by taking alternative measures, such as providing home delivery, retrieving merchandise from inaccessible shelves or racks, and relocating activities to accessible locations.
However, public accommodations owners are not required to provide personal devices, such as wheelchairs or individually prescribed devices. Furthermore, modifications are not required if the changes would fundamentally alter the goods, services, or operations of the public accommodation. To discover more about what you, as a business owner, are required to provide for disabled customers, please contact an experienced Tampa public accommodations attorney as soon as possible.
Allegations of ADA Violations
Under the ADA, private parties are permitted to bring lawsuits against companies to obtain a court order directing an establishment to cease discrimination. However, monetary damages are not available in these types of lawsuits, although plaintiffs may receive an award to cover attorney’s fees. Individuals can also file a complaint with the Attorney General who can bring suits on their behalf. In lawsuits filed by the Attorney General, plaintiffs may be able to collect monetary damages as well as civil penalties of up to $100,000. However, before these lawsuits can be filed, the plaintiff must provide evidence demonstrating a pattern of discrimination.
Contact an Experienced Tampa Public Accommodations Attorney Today
If you have questions or concerns about allegations of an ADA violation, please contact Saady & Saxe, P.A. Attorneys At Law by calling 813-909-8855 today.