You’ve heard that there’s been a rash of lawsuits targeting area businesses for lack of compliance under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). You think it’s wrong that someone is taking advantage of the law to wring money from business owners who can’t afford it, but you’re not worried about your own business being targeted.
You inherited the business and the property from your family, and both have been around since long before the ADA was in existence. You’re “grandfathered in” where ADA accessibility compliance is concerned.
There’s just one problem: There’s no such provision in the ADA.
Older buildings may be treated with some flexibility, but that’s all
Generally, the ADA does not require a property owner to strictly comply with all accessibility requirements when doing so would create an undue burden. Some of the things that are considered include:
- The cost of the renovations or removal of a barrier
- The financial resources of the business
- The impact the renovations or changes would have on the company’s operations
- The size of the business involved
- The feasibility of the changes given the building’s architecture
It’s important to remember that many changes that businesses and property owners need to make in order to be ADA compliant probably wouldn’t be a substantial burden. That includes things like eliminating high-pile carpets on floors (to make it easier for those with mobility issues), widening doors for wheelchair or walker use, changing door handles, and installing ramps on curbs and entrances.
The best thing to do when you’re unsure about your obligations under the ADA is to be proactive and get some experienced guidance. That can help you avoid a costly lawsuit later.