The Americans with Disability Act Celebrates its 30th Anniversary ––– Are You Affected by the Law?

July marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a broad civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private buildings and accommodations that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.


A much misunderstood and maligned aspect of the law deals with access to facilities. This section includes specific physical requirements for various aspects of buildings, such as parking space, the width of the entrance door, the height of counters, etc. and also allows private individuals to file suit for non-compliance.  Many businesses view the provision as unfair and an extortion racket because when faced with private lawsuits they feel they have little choice but to pay up and “settle” to avoid large legal fees, including paying fees incurred by plaintiffs.


Fortunately, in recent months, federal courts have become increasingly reluctant to keep the state-specific claims, which is the part that includes a monetary penalty for each violation.  In contrast, the ADA, which is federal, does not have a monetary penalty but only requires fixing the non-compliance.


ADLI can help defendants in ADA lawsuits craft a cost-efficient strategy for dealing with these suits and, perhaps more important, to take steps with the aim of immunizing themselves from future suits. Learn more about our Employment and Litigation Practices.