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What retailers should know about ADA service counter compliance

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2020 | ADA |

California is a jurisdiction that prioritizes being highly compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The Golden State is known to be litigious in this regard; part of this stems from the way that ADA complaints and lawsuits are treated as civil rights violations, and the statutory penalties can make a significant financial dent in the bottom lines of small business owners who fail to comply.

ADA Compliance for Retailers

Some business owners think that ADA compliance mostly centers on providing wheelchair ramps and accessible restrooms, but this is just the tip of iceberg. ADA guidelines and requirements are not limited to brick-and-mortar locations; even business websites can be subject to ADA compliance law. In the case of retail storefronts that provide counters for the purpose of handling sales or providing services to customers, ADA guidelines include specific measurements and recommendations with regard to positioning.

If a retailer has cash registers or point of sale where customers are expected to pay for goods or services, there should be at least one station where the counter measures 36 inches in length. The height of the counter top should not be more than 34 inches; there should also be enough space underneath for customers on wheelchairs so that they do not have to turn sideways or parallel to the counter. Remember it is always good practice to check with a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) about the specific requirements of the ADA in your State.

It is important to note that the ADA Guide for Small Businesses states that all service and sales counters should be accessible in a timeline when it is readily achievable to transform them. In the case of a large supermarket chain with ample operating budgets, it could be argued that the business should be able to convert all register checkout lanes; however, a small business owner can set up a folding shelf or an auxiliary counter section and still be in compliance.

Lawsuits Against Retailers

Plaintiffs have various reasons to file ADA lawsuits, but the best interests of small business owners are not among them; this is when ADA legal defense may be helpful. Federal ADA compliance laws are clear, and a lawyer may help a business owner understand and apply them.