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How to protect your small business from an ADA lawsuit

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2021 | ADA |

Your business provides a service or certain goods to the local community. Whether you manufacture products or install roofing, your business has to comply with certain legal obligations to its employees and the general public. Few laws apply to both sets of obligations, but the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of them.

There are two separate categories of obligations. One type pertains to the obligation to a companies employees under the ADA.  Some of these requirements apply to companies with at least 15 employees. The second type of obligation applies to customers, clients, and patients as well as potential customers, clients, and patients of a company.  These obligations apply regardless of the number of employees a company may have, and even if the business has no employees.  Your company could potentially face an ADA lawsuit from employees or members of the public who feel like the business discriminates against them. How do you defend your business against an ADA lawsuit?

Show how your business has complied with accessibility requirements 

Here are just a few examples. Please note there are hundreds of areas that the ADA covers, as well as a company’s website in many cases, so again, these are only a few examples.

When you remodeled your bathrooms, did you install wheelchair-accessible bathroom stalls to accommodate those with disabilities? Have you added additional parking spaces for ease of access at the front of your building or provided a system that helps those with visual or hearing impairments communicate effectively with your staff?

The more forethought and consideration your company has put into ADA compliance and accessibility, the easier it will be to push back against claims that your business discriminates against those with disabilities. 

Show a reason why you cannot make certain accommodations

Again, these are just a few examples.  Are you a tenant in a strip mall who doesn’t have control over the design of the structure? Does your lease prohibit you from making material changes to the property? Is your business located in a historical edifice that you cannot make substantial changes to without an expensive and lengthy permitting process?

There could be good reasons why your company has not installed wheelchair ramps or other accessibility options related to the hardship that such efforts would require.

Create questions about the motive of the claimant

Did you know that certain individuals have notoriously filed hundreds of  ADA complaints? Some people look for businesses with older facilities or outdated accommodations specifically so they can file a lawsuit. If the individual had never made a reasonable attempt to access to patronize your business, you might be able to convince the courts that they are a lawsuit troll merely trying to profit off of the law.

Showing how you have offered accommodations, how accommodations might be difficult to achieve, or how a claimant misrepresented the situation could all potentially help you defend your business against an ADA lawsuit.