If you receive notification that someone is bringing an ADA complaint against you, you might panic. You might assume you have unknowingly violated the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and need to make drastic changes to your establishment, as well as work out how to deal with the threat of a lawsuit.
Yet, recent activity down the coast from Orange County in San Diego suggests that your accuser might not have any specific information on you. They might be randomly targeting a bunch of businesses in the hope of tricking one into paying.
Serial ADA complaints are a problem for business owners across the country. This latest incident in San Diego, which the District Attorney is investigating, targets Chinese business owners, with more than 1,000 demand letters sent in a week.
What should you do if you receive an ADA complaint?
If a client with a disability comes into your business and points out an issue, take it as a positive. They are giving you a chance to put things right. If they see you act on their complaint, that may be all they want to see.
If, however, you receive a complaint in the post, seek legal help to check if it is valid and if there is news of others receiving similar letters. Serial filers may try to pressure you into paying by threatening to bring a lawsuit if you do not. The San Diego letters contain a demand for $75,000, with the threat of a federal lawsuit if you do not comply.
Even if you find the claimant is genuine, that does not mean they are right. ADA compliance is a complex issue to understand for businesses and their customers, and it can pay to get sound advice early.