STPRA has been made aware of recent “ADA Tester” cases against South Texas businesses and other public facilities in the past few months. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protects disabled people’s rights to participate in the same activities as more abled people. Its original intent was focused on physical access and public accommodation. However, more recently, lawsuits have even been brought against businesses to modify their websites to accommodate persons using assistive technology like screen readers and text-to-speech.
Title III of the ADA requires private sector businesses that serve as “places of public accommodation” to remove “access barriers” that inhibit a disabled person’s access to goods and services. Generally, any private business with more than 15 employees is subject to the ADA, including the requirements in Title III. However, Title III does not directly address whether places of public accommodation include websites, mobile applications, or other web-based technologies. Courts have ruled both for plaintiffs and for defendant businesses defending against these claims.
The recent ADA Tester claims brought against small South Texas businesses, however have focused on physical access requirements. The ADA requires covered facilities to have disabled parking spaces of specific sizes, with specific markings, barrier-free ramps, accessible doors, accessible restrooms to specific designs and other accommodations. There are less restrictive requirements for businesses in existence prior to 1993, located in facilities built before 1993 or modified before early 1992. It is important for business owners to be aware that once you cross the 15 employee threshold, any modifications you make to your facilities must be ADA-compliant if “readily achievable without much difficulty or expense.” If an ADA Tester approaches your business, demanding you make changes to your facilities or offering to settle a potential claim against you under the ADA, it is important you consult with an attorney to determine if the Tester has standing to sue or is engaging in a scam. Some ADA Testers affiliated with plaintiffs law firms travel the country looking for potential defendants, especially in rural areas where facilities are likely to be older and owners have less resources and expertise to make them ADA Compliant. If you are approached by an ADA Tester, speak to your attorney first, but also let STRPA know as we are monitoring this situation to assist our members in protecting their private property rights.
2020 has been quite a year! We especially witnessed this when planning and executing our 15th Annual Meeting & Fundraiser.
We know that many of you had challenges participating in our live segment in the evening. That is the risk we took putting on a live event. We so appreciate that we were able to record the Lara Logan live segment, and share it in perpetuity.
Thank you to all the members who were persistent in their attendance and those who tried to attend. We thank all of those who sponsored the event and donated and bid on auction items during these times and helped bring in a respectable profit.
We are hopeful that we will be able to have an in-person event in 2021, but if not, we know from lessons learned that we can produce an improved virtual event.
Now off to our taxation plans, to educate members in South Texas on their property taxation rights. This will be a three-phase plan that we will be implementing throughout the coming year.
Please send in your constructive criticisms on the things you liked best about our annual event and suggestions on what can be improved upon.
This is your organization, we want and encourage your input!
Until next month,