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Why the Supreme Court’s ADA “tester” case matters

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2023 | ADA |

Ordinarily, when an individual is concerned that a business may have violated their rights enshrined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), they file a complaint, and that complaint is investigated. Legal action may be taken against that business eventually if the plaintiff is in a position to argue that their rights were personally violated as a right of the company’s alleged failings.

However, there is a type of litigant who may or may not be in a position to take such action in the future. The nation’s businesses are watching the U.S. Supreme Court in anticipation of a decision that will affect the fate of this type of litigant. Unlike Americans with disabilities who may have been personally harmed by a company’s non-compliance with the ADA, this type of litigant is known as a “tester.”

The tester case

This term, the Court will hear and rule on a case involving the rights of testers to litigate alleged business violations of the ADA. The case before the Court concerns a woman with disabilities who serves as a civil rights tester. In this capacity, she searches the websites of hotels to see whether they properly disclose accessibility information as required by the ADA.

The primary concern in this case is whether someone who isn’t intending to patronize a business – who is, instead, simply looking for violations – has legitimate standing to sue a company for non-compliance. If the Court sides with the tester, companies may soon be at greater risk of being sued because people who serve as testers will have greater incentives to file. If the Court doesn’t side with the tester, lawsuits filed by testers may be more easily dismissed.

Business owners who have questions about whether action taken against them still have the right to – and should – seek legal guidance if they’re facing potential litigation for alleged ADA noncompliance.