As we discussed in a recent article, class action lawyers have been sending demand letters and filing lawsuits claiming that websites belonging to businesses and organizations are “places of public accommodation” and are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because they are not accessible to people with visual and hearing impairments.
On January 29, 2016, several consolidated cases in the Western District of Pennsylvania moved forward after a scheduling conference. While claims against some of the defendants have resolved through settlement, claims against the National Basketball Association and Toys “R” Us, among others, are moving forward rapidly, with the parties scheduled to complete depositions in March 2016, and with trial scheduled for May 2, 2016.
Meanwhile, nine Senators from across the country, all Democrats, have sent a joint letter to the Office of Management and Budget urging it to complete its review of the proposed regulations regarding accessibility standards for websites and to impose strict ADA compliance regulations for companies. While the Senators commended the Department of Justice’s prosecution of various institutions for having websites that are allegedly not compliant with the ADA, they stated their concern that companies were “exploiting the lack of regulatory clarity” by maintaining non-accessible websites, which the Senators believe to be in violation of the ADA.
These developments show that the issue of whether your company’s website complies with the ADA is not going to go away soon. Plaintiffs’ lawyers representing visual and hearing impaired groups will likely continue to broaden the scope of who they sue for alleged ADA violations. If you receive a letter demanding action or requesting a settlement, it is important to know your rights before agreeing to anything.