What to do if you are sued for an ADA violation

| Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 | Comments Off on What to do if you are sued for an ADA violation

The worst thing to do is nothing.

Look at what this article taken from [Facilities.net] says:

What is the best way to proceed if you receive notice of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violation?

If you’ve received notification that means that either a complaint has been filed in federal court or that the Justice Department has received a complaint or is investigating you. At that point, don’t say any of the following:
– “I didn’t know I had to comply.”
– “We’ve never had anyone in here in a wheelchair, so why do I have to comply?”
– “See you in court.”
– The worst thing to say is, “We can’t afford to do anything.”

The best reaction is to read or listen to what is being said, particularly if it’s coming from the Justice Department. If you receive a complaint filed in the court, read the allegations as just that — allegations. An individual with a disability may make allegations of violations that are not actually required under the ADA.

Be sure to evaluate your facility before responding (or agreeing to a settlement) so that you know exactly what your facility’s status is regarding ADA requirements. Don’t jump into a settlement with that individual/group and agree to remedy only the items they identified as they likely have not identified all issues. In that scenario, the next complaint filed with items other than those you agreed to correct will become a new complaint. Review your entire facility, put a plan together and start the corrections so that when (not if) the next complaint or question arises, you have an answer and a plan.

I would also like to add that in our experience, many small business owners think they can defend the complaint and not pay anything. Read this previous article: Small businessman’s guide to dealing with attorneys.

More often than once, a small “mom and pop” store owner will say to us, how can they sue us for the mirror in the bathroom? No one can fit a wheelchair into our restroom! And then proceed to think that they can walk into court and claim that because their restroom is inaccessible therefore they aren’t liable for an issue that they are in violation of. Another horrible situation is that they will call the plaintiff attorney and attempt to convince that attorney that they aren’t responsible (for something) because their store is too small or that they don’t have money because they have to pay other bills. In the first case, being too small only means they have more violations and in the second, they have money to pay other bills so they got money.

Don’t think you can ignore ADA violations or that somehow they magically don’t apply to you. Many of the violations can be addressed with a little bit of effort. Those that can’t be addressed can at least be foreseen so that one has an idea of how to proceed. ADA violations have at their root actual conditions, so be informed on those conditions. If you are sued once, you may be able to fight that in court. But if you don’t fix the issues you will have that happen a second time.

Our business exists because we have the expertise to help you. It doesn’t make sense to try and tackle these complex laws as your first encounter.

Some attorneys have told their clients that they can ignore them because everything is arguable in court.

Now that’s a bad attorney, as a good attorney will keep you out of court, saving you money and time in the long run. After all, tape measure does not lie.

Questions? email us at help@accesssolutionllc.com or call us at 866 982 3212.

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