Seemingly, the courts will likely eventually find that private retail websites are places of public accommodation under the ADA, even though such a result was never considered by Congress when the ADA was enacted.
What You Need to Know
- Retailers that have not faced this issue should conduct evaluations of their websites to determine their levels of compliance, the costs, and the realistic time frames for any remediations. Retailers should use the appropriate legal and IT expertise.
- Although some retailers are currently being assailed, the claims will no doubt expand to the education, finance, professional services, and healthcare industries, all of which should conduct a similar analysis of their websites.
Client Alert From Drinker Biddle
April 13 2016
Title III of the ADA provides that “no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disabilities in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or any accommodations of any place of public accommodation….” 42 U.S.C. §12812(a). When the ADA was enacted in 1991, Congress contemplated physical access to places of public accommodation, such as hospitals, schools, housing, restaurants, and retail stores. At that time, Congress did not foresee the rise of the internet or the proliferation of sales of goods and services through retail websites, and therefore did not provide any guidance as to whether or the extent to which retail websites were governed by the ADA’s accessibility requirements.