When operating an existing business, or when remodeling existing space or designing new space, you need to make certain that your restrooms are ADA compliant, otherwise you will be certain to face an ADA lawsuit.
One area that deserves attention to ADA regulations is restroom design. For a person with a disability, navigating a non-compliant restroom can be embarrassing, upsetting and sometimes extremely difficult. It is important that you are careful not to overlook the common design mistakes that could cause your customers frustration and place you at extreme risk for ADA lawsuits that could have a major negative impact on your business. What used to be 10 or 20 Plaintiffs looking for businesses to sue has now increased 100 fold, so every business will likely be looked at in the months ahead.
Inches can make a difference
No matter the purpose of your building or the industry in which you work, if your building is open to the public, your restrooms are subject to the ADA laws. For certain older buildings, what needs to be done may be subject to the "readily achievable standard" which might provide an exception the ADA regulations, while other buildings are required to be fully compliant.
Once someone files a lawsuit against you for noncompliance with the ADA, you may be faced with design issues, which may include:
- Doors that open in instead of out or are too heavy for someone in a wheelchair to open
- Insufficient space or stalls for a wheelchair to turn or maneuver
- Toilets that are too close to the wall or that have flush valves that are difficult to reach
- Lack of grab bars, or bars that do not have adequate space in all directions
- Sinks that are too tall or that are too close to the toilet to allow room to maneuver a wheelchair
- Pipes not properly wrapped under sinks
- Paper holders in the wrong location
- Mirrors installed too high to be useful for someone sitting in a wheelchair
You should be working with an ADA attorney, as well as a compliance inspector (known as a CASp inspector in California) instead of relying on the opinions of your contractor. You should be aware that ADA inspectors (or CASp inspectors) cannot provide opinions on what is, or is not, required under the Readily Achievable Standard, only an experienced ADA attorney can render such and opinion.
If you do face a complaint related to ADA compliance, you have a lot at stake. It is a smart idea to have legal representation from an experienced ADA attorney.