From Forbes - The ADA has been applied to websites in cases where a brick and mortar store had a website—the argument was that the ADA applied because there was a brick and mortar store. But it has also been applied in situations where there is no brick and mortar store—as cases against companies including Netflix demonstrate.
What You Need to Know
- In its settlement agreements, the DOJ mandates compliance with the recommendations of the United States Access Board, a federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities. So, before a business faces a lawsuit or a DOJ compliance review, it should hire a web consultant who is familiar with those guidelines.
- The maximum penalty the DOJ imposes for a first violation is $75,000. For subsequent violations, it’s $150,000. But the question always is, ‘What constitutes a first violation?’ For example, is each page a separate violation? The bigger issue is the size of any civil penalty.
April 2 2016
The Americans with Disabilities Act didn’t contemplate the Internet. Passed by Congress in 1990, it gives comprehensive civil rights protections to people with disabilities. Title III of the ADA, which covers access to businesses, has traditionally been applied to brick and mortar establishments to ensure that, for example, people in wheelchairs can enter. But as consumers have moved online, the law’s focus has expanded.
The Department of Justice, which is responsible for implementing the ADA, is increasingly reviewing websites to determine whether they comply with the law’s access requirements. At the same time, a growing number of plaintiffs are filing lawsuits alleging that various business websites are inaccessible. Internet companies, including Peapod and Netflix, have settled cases that alleged their websites were inaccessible to people with visual and hearing disabilities. And, in June, the Department of Justice may finally issue long-delayed proposed regulations that address websites. But until clear regulations have passed, business owners will face uncertainty as to what the ADA requires.