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House Bill 'Guts' ADA Enforcement for Public Places

Designed to thwart predatory lawsuits, the bill could make it easier for businesses to ignore barriers to access, disability rights advocates say.
March 10, 2018, 11am PST | Elana Eden
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The House has passed an amendment to the Americans With Disabilities Act that would make it harder to sue businesses for failing to meet accessibility standards. "Under the bill, those wishing to sue businesses in federal court over an ADA public-accommodations violation must first deliver a written notice to that business detailing the illegal barrier to access and then give that business 60 days to come up with a plan to address the complaints and an additional 60 days to take action," Mike DeBonis explains in The Washington Post. The changes would apply to places open to the public, like stores, restaurants, or hotels.

Supporters say the ADA Education and Reform Act would protect businesses from excessive or frivolous lawsuits. But critics and disability rights advocates say there are better ways to address those abuses, without shifting the burden of ADA compliance to the individuals facing exclusion. Senator Tammy Duckworth, who uses a wheelchair, tweeted about the potential impacts of the amendment ahead of its move to the Senate:

Supporters of #HR620 don’t deny that they’re violating the law—they just resent being sued for “minor” #ADA infractions. But an incline that is “only” a few degrees too steep, or an entrance that is “only” a few inches high, can determine if I’m able to access an area w/out help.

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Published on Thursday, February 15, 2018 in The Washington Post
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