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.

Continue Reading The Muddy Waters of ADA Website Compliance May Become Less Murky in 2019

As website accessibility lawsuits continue to surge, places of public accommodation oftentimes battle multiple lawsuits filed by different plaintiffs represented by different attorneys.  Even after entering into private settlements, which include detailed website remediation plans, defendants may continue to be the target of these lawsuits by copycat plaintiffs.  The Eleventh Circuit recently addressed this dynamic head-on, and held that a private settlement entered into by Hooters and a first-filed plaintiff did not moot a nearly identical, later-filed website accessibility lawsuit by a different plaintiff.  This case underscores the importance of quickly remediating website accessibility issues, as well as taking care to draft settlement agreements to maximize arguments that future lawsuits are barred.

Continue Reading Website Accessibility Update – Eleventh Circuit Holds that a Private Settlement With One Plaintiff Will Not Moot A Nearly Identical Lawsuit By Another Plaintiff

The DOJ announced last November that it again was delaying the target date for publishing its proposed website regulations for state and local governments to December 2014, and its proposed website regulations for public accommodations until June 2015.  Next, without further comment, the DOJ failed to make its December 2014 deadline for its state and local government regulations.  Given that the state and local government regulations deadline was missed, and that the DOJ has not yet submitted its public accommodations regulations to the federal Office of Management and Budget for required review and approval, it is virtually certain that the June 2015 deadline for public accommodations regulations will be missed as well.  Bottom line – affected businesses won’t see the DOJ’s new website accessibility regulations anytime soon.

Continue Reading Five Reasons Why Businesses Should Take Steps Now To Make Their Websites Accessible