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What are some ADA compliance exemptions?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2024 | ADA |

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was a ground-breaking piece of legislation when it first passed. Many businesses initially decried its potentially far-reaching consequences, but compliance with the law has since become just another cost of doing business in the United States.

Despite having been on the books for decades, people still have a hard time understanding the ADA and what it requires from their organizations. Businesses and property owners often misunderstand their obligations under the ADA. Some invest in expensive projects that they don’t need to complete. Other businesses mistakenly believe that they are exempt from ADA requirements when they actually are not.

There are different rules for the ADA depending on whether the complaint comes from an employee or a member of the public. Businesses need to be big enough for employment law provisions to apply. When looking at complaints related to facilities and websites from consumers, there are very few exemptions.

Is there a grandfather clause?

One of the most common misconceptions about the ADA is the idea that there is a grandfather clause. People think that businesses that existed before Congress passed the ADA and companies operating in buildings built before the law are exempt from its requirements. There are some special exceptions for making drastic modifications to certain historical buildings, but for the most part, the age of the facilities or the business has no bearing on the applicability of ADA provisions.

Who is exempt?

There are two main exceptions to ADA requirements for public accessibility. The first is for private clubs. Those creating their own social organizations or gathering places are not subject to the same restrictions as businesses that serve the public. The same is true of religious organizations. Churches and other religious entities do not have to comply with the ADA the way that for-profit entities do. Most other businesses could potentially be at risk of a lawsuit if customers take issue with the lack of an accessible website or a facility that is not safe for wheelchair users.

Understanding when ADA lawsuits are possible could benefit those responding to complaints from members of the public or who are already facing litigation. In some cases, it may be possible to seek the dismissal of a lawsuit due to exemptions that apply to a particular organization.