As we discussed in a previous post , the courts, the Congress, and the Department of Justice (the “DoJ”) continue to grapple with the scope of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) as it relates to the accessibility of private businesses’ websites for disabled people. A decision by one state trial court in California seems to adopt a more strict reading of the definition of “public accommodation” than previous cases in California and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes the federal courts in California) on the subject, which further demonstrates the difficulty that many courts, including this one, are having with these ADA website accessibility cases.
The Scope of the Issue
The Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) has been the source of a tremendous amount of litigation since President George H.W. Bush signed it into law in 1990. Over the past few years, Plaintiffs’ counsel have developed a cottage industry of sorts by filing thousands of lawsuits alleging that company websites are not accessible to the blind or visually impaired, in violation of Title III of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in “places of public accommodation.” 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). While ADA lawsuits previously focused on physical access barriers to businesses, these new lawsuits allege that: (1) private company websites qualify as places of public accommodation; and, (2) websites with access barriers (e.g., websites without compatible screen-reading software) deny plaintiffs the right of equal access. Plaintiffs have also challenged the accessibility of mobile applications and online job application interfaces.
Employers failing to strictly comply with FCRA requirements in conducting background checks continue to face expensive consequences. On November 16, 2018, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California approved a $1.2 million settlement of a class action lawsuit alleging violations of the FCRA filed against the popular pet supplies chain Petco.
In a new class action filed recently against a hospital housekeeping company, employees allege their employer’s fingerprint scanning time-tracking system runs afoul of privacy laws. The Pennsylvania-based company Xanitos Inc. now faces the lawsuit in federal court in Illinois, claiming the company violated the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) issued a new “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” (“FCRA”) (“Summary of Rights”) form on September 12, 2018. This form replaces the previous version issued on November 12, 2012, and is expected to be implemented by employers on September 21, 2018.
On May 21, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, holding that the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) does not prohibit the use of arbitration agreements with class/collective action waivers covered by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). The Sixth Circuit has now concluded in Gaffers v. Kelly Services, Inc. that the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), like the NLRA, does not bar the use of arbitration agreements with class/collective action waivers.
Oregon’s Fair Work Week Act (also known as Oregon’s predictive scheduling law) (the “Act”) is proceeding full speed ahead and will add significant challenges and costs for retailers. The majority of the Act goes into effect on July 1, 2018. Following similar ordinances regulating employee hours passed at municipal levels in Emeryville, California; New York City; San Francisco; San Jose; Seattle; and Washington, D.C., Oregon becomes the latest jurisdiction and the first state to enact a predictive scheduling law.
California is the land of employment legislation, and 2018 is shaping up to be another year of change. We are less than six months into the year, and already several bills that could significantly impact California businesses—for better or for worse—are pending in the California legislature.
A magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon recently made findings and recommendations to dismiss a purported class action against Kroger subsidiary Fred Meyer. The suit alleges that the retailer’s background check process for prospective employees violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act by both failing to properly disclose that a report will be run, and failing to comply with the statute’s procedural requirements before taking adverse action against an applicant.
On April 23, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Ratliff v. Celadon Trucking Servs., 1:17-cv-07163, dismissed a putative class action lawsuit alleging a violation of the pre-adverse action notice requirements in section 1681b(b)(3) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). Ratliff is significant in the body of background check precedent because it is a part of an emerging trend of § 1681b(b)(3) claims (as opposed to the more commonly challenged § 1681b(b)(2)Disclosure claims) challenged and dismissed for lack of Article III standing.
In the opinion, Judge Manish S. Shah found plaintiff Ratliff could not show that he suffered an injury-in-fact after defendant Celadon allegedly did not properly provide him with an FCRA mandated notice before declining his employment due to the results of his criminal background check.