In recent years, US corporations have been flooded with ADA and other state laws violations lawsuits alleging that their websites do not comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and various state legislatures, including the California Unruh Act. Consumers who are blind allege that because visually impaired people cannot access the sites using screen-reader software,
According to reports, ADA lawsuits have risen by 75%, from around 2,000 reported instances in 2018 to nearly 3,500 in 2020. The cases seek damages from various companies operating across a range of sectors.
The overwhelming majority of cases have been filed in particular jurisdictions, particularly the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and various California state courts, where case law has made successful defense challenging save in limited circumstances. Even when a company does not have a physical presence that connects to the website, some courts have ruled that websites are “public accommodations.
Litigation costs in these instances can be extremely high, far exceeding the modest settlements that plaintiffs’ attorneys demand. Settlement amounts are frequently limited since the ADA only allows for injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees for the winner rather than monetary compensation. Statutory damages are available under some state laws, including the Unruh Act of California.
Furthermore, plaintiffs may seek to have the website remediated to specific WCAG criteria as part of the settlement since they ask for injunctive relief in their complaints. Vendors specializing in providing audit, remedy, and monitoring services might help you resolve a lawsuit. Remediation costs can quickly escalate based on the intricacy of the website, the number of unique pages, and the frequency of updates. Even though these problems have little bearing on whether a visually impaired consumer can use the website, plaintiffs’ attorneys frequently employ software designed to detect minor, technical WCAG “compliance” issues following a prior settlement.
The cost of fines, time spent defending yourself, and the stress of litigation have forced many companies to close their websites rather than face these judgments. These lawsuits are truly inconvenient for businesses. Many firms may be unaware of ADA compliance standards for their online stores, leaving them caught off guard by these claims. The presence of these cases gives a company an opportunity to
Businesses should engage with reputable legal representatives and advisors to lower risk and cut costs. Companies must also identify trustworthy providers that can document a company’s audit and cleanup efforts and deliver thorough compliance letters to enhance bargaining power and reduce future lawsuits settlement.
What are ADA compliance standards?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a set of civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The ADA was enacted in 1990 and amended in 2008. The ADA establishes minimum standards for the design and construction of new facilities, and it also requires that existing facilities be modified to the extent that it is “readily achievable” to do so. Readily achievable means that the modifications can be accomplished without much difficulty or expense. The types of accommodations that may be required include wheelchair ramps, Braille signage, and accessible restrooms. In addition, the ADA requires that employees be given reasonable accommodations to ensure that they are able to perform their jobs. Employers who fail to comply with the ADA’s standards can be subject to fines and other penalties.