There is one constant as I travel throughout the state of California. Whether I am speaking at a conference or meeting with business leaders, people are always asking me about Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits. Thousands of these ADA lawsuits have been filed in California and there is no end in sight. Every attempt to stop them at the state level has been blocked and those who think the California Commission on Disability Access will stop them need to have a reality check.
Even this past year State Senator Bob Dutton introduced Senate Bill 783, which would have simply allowed 120 days for a business to correct an alleged ADA violation before a legal action could commence. Despite its pragmatic approach to increasing access and stopping rampant ADA lawsuits, it was killed in committee.
That is why CALA supports HR 3356, the ACCESS (ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services) Act, introduced by Congressman Dan Lungren on November 4th. This bill would help facilitate ADA compliance by requiring plaintiffs who intend to sue businesses for ADA violations to provide notice of ADA violations to the business they are targeting. The notice must be specific enough that business owners/operators know how they have violated the Act and what actions they must take to bring their business into compliance. Business owners/operators must provide a written response outlining the improvements they will make to comply with the ADA within 60 days of receipt of the initial notice, and then have 120 days to make the improvements. If the improvements have not been made in 120 days, legal action could move forward.
The purpose of Rep. Lungren’s legislation is to discourage ADA lawsuits aimed at financial gain rather than increased access. The ACCESS Act would help ensure that barriers to entry are remedied, improving access to public accommodations for the disabled, while decreasing abusive ADA lawsuits aimed at extracting money from businesses rather than improving access.
I encourage all Californians to support the ACCESS Act. There is no dispute that the principles and goals of the ADA are necessary to ensure that businesses are accommodating to all citizens, but abusive ADA lawsuits are hurting California’s businesses and residents. In a time when our courts have had their funding cut dramatically and our state’s economy continues to struggle, the last thing we need is more abusive lawsuits clogging our courts and hurting job growth. That is why it is time for us to come together and support the ACCESS Act. To send a letter to your representative click here.