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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a Federal law that, among other things, is intended to stop discrimination against people with disabilities, and to allow those with disabilities the same access to businesses as the able bodied. The goals of the ADA are worthwhile and protect the access rights of the disabled community, which is growing every day as people live longer lives and modern medicine helps to keep people mobile and independent. Any one of us may join the ranks of the disabled community at any time and it is important that each small business owner know what their responsibility and liability is in maintaining a facility open to the public.

Unfortunately, in California, the law is written in a way that allows plaintiffs to get money when there are access-related violations on a property open to the public. The fact that the business owner may not know about the law is not a defense. The fact that the business owner is a tenant and does not own the property is not a defense. Lawsuits have made the federal ADA and California access laws more about money than about improving access for the disabled community. In many cases, lawyers sue small businesses in order to collect settlement dollars. Oftentimes, the settlement doesn’t require the business owners fix the access violation! These kinds of lawsuits do nothing to improve access for the disabled community and drain money from small businesses, forcing many to close their doors.

What can you do?

The only way to protect your business is to learn about access issues and get them fixed. Most access-related violations are very inexpensive, if not free, to fix. To learn about how to protect your business, invite CCJF to do a presentation about ADA lawsuits and compliance. We do the workshops for free as a service to the small business community. Our goal is to educate small businesses so that able bodied and disabled alike can access the business establishment and feel welcome.

Hire a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) to evaluate your business to determine if you have disability access violations. This will help you make a plan to fix the problems.

If you are served with a lawsuit, immediately contact an experienced attorney who regularly practices this area of the law.

To schedule a workshop, please send an inquiry to ccjf@faircalifornia.org.

Here’s what workshop attendees are saying about our presentation:

Robert from Valencia: “Great presentation. Very informative (and scary!)”

Robin from Long Beach: “Excellent information with solutions.

Vince from Escalon: “Very enlightening, was not aware of the total picture of problem areas."

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