You may have taken every possible step to provide accessibility to your customers with disabilities, as required in the Americans with Disabilities Act. This may include replacing steps with ramps, widening doorways, adding grab bars in the bathrooms and anything else that would make your place of business as comfortable as possible for all your potential customers. You may also have hired a professional to evaluate your website and help you upgrade it to meet and maintain ADA compliance.
Just when you think you can relax and enjoy the business of the holiday shopping season, new allegations of non-compliance arise against you. This time, the target of the accusations is your business’s gift cards.
What are their demands?
If you have not become the target of the latest round of ADA lawsuits, you may not want to rest on your laurels just yet. The most recent lawsuits aimed at retailers relate to physical gift cards that are not accessible to those with visual impairments. Since gift cards are a $160 billion component of the retail industry, the success of the lawsuits could mean major changes for retailers across the country. Some of the demands the plaintiffs have made in their lawsuits include the following:
- Using Braille lettering to indicate the name of the establishment that issues the card
- Having the original amount loaded to the card printed on the card in Braille
- Changing the texture of the cards so those with visual impairments may not confuse them with credit cards and other items in their wallets
- Creating gift cards to be a different size and shape from bank cards
So far, the lawsuits are not seeking any financial awards, but it is likely that if this campaign is successful, businesses like yours will quickly become targets of drive-by lawsuits, perhaps before you even have a chance to put the changes into action. Some predict that the success of these lawsuits may open the door for similar complaints, such as Braille menus, tags on products or food labels, none of which the ADA currently requires you to provide.
The hundreds of lawsuits now seeking class action status focus on restaurant gift cards, but they may serve as a warning for businesses in California and across the country. You may wish to seek the advice of an experienced ADA defense attorney for information about remaining compliant with the law and protecting your business from drive-by civil claims.