Is Your Business ADA Compliant? 3 Ways to Avert Litigation
Owning a brick and mortar business comes with complying with a variety of state, local and federal laws. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) often comes into play when dealing with employees who have a disability. However, business owners also have to ensure that their business is ADA compliant with ADA accessibility rules. Business found noncompliant face hefty fines and frequent audits by regulators. Where a person with a disability makes a report, the business owner can become exposed to costly litigation. The best course of action is to find the areas of noncompliance and swiftly address them. Even where compliance is possible, businesses overlook other practices, which may call for similar adverse legal action.
Treat All Complaints in a Fair Manner
According to Title III of the ADA, private businesses that are open to the public must comply with certain building accessibility standard when engaging in new construction or renovations. Businesses that engage in new construction work or construction are subject to reporting by the public where possible noncompliance is evident. Businesses that receive these complaints are smart to treat all such complaints in a serious manner. A complaint can come from a seemingly able person who in fact has a patent disability that necessitates an augmentation to building accessibility. Unequal treatment of reporting parties can amount to discrimination and a violation of ADA regulations. In addition, businesses that are found to engage in discriminatory treatment that is deemed “willful” are penalized or litigated harshly.
Stick to One Formal Process
As a corollary to the first point above, businesses that receive reports of noncompliance from disabled members of the public should stick to one process in investigating and address them. Business should not treat use a different process to address one complaint over another. For example, if it is the policy of the business to take all formal ADA accessibility-related complaints to the business manager of the business, then all complaints should go through this process. Therefore, a complaint should not be formally reported to a lower-level employee. This means that all staff should become trained on these processes when they begin working for the business. Deviation from formally set procedures is further grounds from members to claim violation of Title III.
Good Record Keeping Is Crucial
To advance an adequate defense in court or before regulators, a business will need sufficient documentation of the circumstances. Adequate record-keeping means keeping email correspondences chronicling the story, photographic evidence, business records noting complaints, and proof of activities that the business engaged in to rectify the situation. A business that is willing to comply will find it useful to present these kinds of evidence.
Fort Lauderdale Business Law Attorney
ADA noncompliance issues can be extremely costly, but also avoidable. Do not let your business fall victim to a noncompliance penalty fine or a costly settlement agreement. If you are seeking to bring your company into compliance with ADA public accommodation laws, it is wise to hire an attorney. With legal counsel, you increase your chances of getting it right once and for all. Fort Lauderdale attorney Brendan A. Sweeney has years of experience advising on ADA compliance issues. Contact us now for a consultation.