What Relief Does New Disability Access Legislation Provide for Businesses?

- David Goldman – Wendel, Rose, Black & Dean LLP

JD Supra

Jun 20, 2016

In recent years, in response to complaints from both large and small business owners, the California Legislature enacted a variety of measures to rein in lawsuits by individuals with disabilities under California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act and Disabled Persons Act (collectively “Unruh Act”). On May 10, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 269 (SB 269), in another effort to provide some “safe harbor” to business owners. This article will identify some of the recent and more prominent changes to the Unruh Act (and related statutes), and how they may assist building and business owners in limiting financial responsibility for some violations of disability access laws.

Equal Access to Businesses for Individuals with Disabilities

Individuals with disabilities are entitled to equal access to businesses open to the public, and their services and products, under both state and federal law. Disabled individuals are protected under federal law by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and its related regulations and in California under the Unruh Act and related accessibility building standards set forth in Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations (Title 24). The Unruh Act, unlike the ADA, provides for the award of monetary damages in addition to injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees, while disabled individuals are limited only to injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees for the violations of the ADA.

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