The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The legislation ensured civil rights protections to those experiencing physical and mental disability, guaranteeing equal opportunity when it comes to employment, transportation, employment, telecommunications, and state and local government services.
The ADA commemorated its 30th anniversary back in July. Today, the plight of customers dealing with physical challenges that make entering stories difficult is being overshadowed. Instead, so-called “investigations” are taking the form of exploitation with countless, potentially frivolous lawsuits filed against business owners.
Also known as “drive-by” or “surf-buy,” litigation becomes a type of weapon against retailers forced to spend hard-earned money to defend themselves in court against ADA violations. So-called victims visit retail establishments and survey parking lots not as customers, but as evidence-seekers hoping to find the most minor ADA violations and file claims against store owners.
Damages can be a part of the lawsuits as well, costing businesses hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to fight these claims. Even lawyer fees for those who use a fine-toothed comb to locate the slightest problem can be reimbursed when they had no intention of using the parking lot or going through the doors of a store looking for something to purchase.
While retailers are financially impacted by these so-called “claims,” the smaller flash mob approach actually undermines the continuous plights facing people with disabilities. The Americans With Disabilities Act represented a historic piece of legislation that deserves to be honored, not sullied by those looking to cash in at the expense of those with legitimate physical challenges.