The ADA was adopted in 1990 by the Federal Government with the goal of achieving an increase in access to public facilities for individuals with physical disabilities. While building codes and standards were changed to allow better access for new construction, the law also imposed new requirements upon existing businesses to retrofit existing facilities.
Unfortunately, a gradual practical approach to retrofit pre-ADA facilities over time was not soon enough for some enterprising lawyers who developed schemes to sue literally thousands of small, local “mom-and-pop” businesses which were not in technical compliance with ADA building standards. Most of these included technical violations for parking lots that were not properly stripped and grades which were considered too steep.
Many of the lawyers filing these suits were not customers per se, but were traveling opportunists with tape measures and leveling devices, and an understanding of the technical rules and regulations. In many instances these lawyers sought to recover statutory attorney fees for several thousands of dollars in exchange for a dismissal and release. Many small businesses would pay the settlements as a nuisance or cost of doing business without effecting any changes, but remained exposed to future lawsuits by other enterprising ADA lawyers. The states have adopted reforms in recent years to curb abuses to the extortion practices of certain ADA lawyers; still, the abuses persist.
The ADA can also create employment issues, as the law requires employers to “make reasonable accommodations” in working conditions for employees with disabilities. ADA compliance is one of many real-world challenges small businesses must deal with on a daily basis. A threatening letter from an ADA lawyer is not to be ignored.
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Our firm has experience in defending and representing small businesses in dealing with ADA compliance issues. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney of NewPoint Law Group, call 1-800-358-0305 or contact us online today.