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ADA claims target business websites

On Behalf of | May 27, 2020 | ADA |

Many businesses may be unsure how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) could affect them. One little-known area that has recently prompted a slew of costly lawsuits is website accessibility. This is something that many small business owners may think little about, especially if they are effectively providing services for customers with disabilities at their physical location. However, even major companies like Domino’s Pizza and celebrities like Beyoncé have faced legal claims over their websites under the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are steps and precautions that companies may want to keep in mind to help protect themselves from these types of claims.

One blind woman sued Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment in 2019, alleging that the celebrity’s website did not provide proper accommodations to blind people who used screen readers because images did not have alternative text provided instead. She also said that the site did not have accessible drop-down menus that could be controlled through the keyboard. Another blind man sued Domino’s pizza (Robles vs. Domino’s Pizza), saying that he could not use the company’s website or its mobile app to order pizza. Like the woman who sued Beyoncé, he based his claim on the theory that these companies’ websites are places of public accommodation that must offer all services to people with disabilities. Even though telephone ordering remained available, he won his case, a victory left intact by the Supreme Court.

However, this does not mean that all websites must be redesigned. Depending on what Court an ADA Website Lawsuit might be filed in, websites that reflect online businesses only with no associated physical public accommodation may not be affected by the Domino’s decision.  However, the website owner (business) does not usually have a say on what state or jurisdiction an ADA website lawsuit might be filed in, and ADA Plaintiff’s attorneys may look for states and jurisdictions that are more friendly to these types of lawsuits.

To avoid these lawsuits, companies may want to consider making modifications to their websites to respect principles of accessibility and other methods that help keep them from being a target of an ADA website lawsuit.  An attorney with a lot of experience with ADA website Plaintiffs and ADA website compliance law can advise on how to avoid lawsuits and mount a strong defense in case of a claim. The company should not just put the project in the hands of a webmaster or web developer or attempt to use an off-the-shelf plug-in.

Plaintiff‘s lawyers filing many ADA website lawsuits include the Pacific Trial Attorneys and Scott Ferrell, Joe Manning and the Manning Law Firm out of California, Kevin Tucker in Pennsylvania, Joseph Mizrahi of Cohen & Mizrahi in Brooklyn New York, and Yaakov Saks of Stein Saks out of Hackensack, New Jersey, as well as the Wilshire Law Firm and Kousha Berokim out of Los Angeles.