Leech Tishman

ADA Title III Lawsuit Filed Challenging the Accessibility of a Public Accommodation’s Website

By: Alisa N. Carr, Esq.

On July 31, 2015, Robert Jahoda, represented by Carlson Lynch, a Pittsburgh-based law firm, filed a lawsuit against Foot Locker, Inc. asking the District Court to find a valid claim of discrimination under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) when a public accommodation utilizes a website that is not usable by customers who are blind or visually impaired. It is anticipated that Mr. Jahoda, and others, will file dozens of ADA lawsuits against public accommodations resulting in costly litigation.

The ADA requires all public accommodations, such as banks, stores, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, doctors’ offices, day care centers, private educational facilities and theaters, to maintain in operable working condition facilities and equipment that are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. A public accommodation is required to reasonably modify its policies, practices or procedures, if necessary, to avoid discrimination. In recent years, litigation typically directed towards brick and mortar stores has been expanded to include websites when there is a nexus between the e-commerce website and the physical space of a public accommodation.

In 2010, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Governments, announcing the DOJ’s interest in developing more specific requirements, or technical standards, for website accessibility. Despite conflicting case law regarding the applicability of the ADA to websites of public accommodations, on June 25, 2015 the DOJ filed a Statement of Interest in the matter of National Association of the Deaf et al. v. Harvard University et al., Civil Action No. 3:15-cv-30023 (D. Mass. 2015) that reaffirmed the DOJ’s position that Title III is applicable to websites of public accommodations.

The attorneys at Leech Tishman have broad experience with ADA litigation defense. On September 16, 2015, attorneys in Leech Tishman’s Pittsburgh office, in conjunction with local ADA and website technology professionals, are presenting an in-house lunchtime CLE seminar for clients regarding ADA compliance for websites. The 90-minute discussion will include a review of current case law regarding compliance obligations, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and, best practices for achieving compliance.  Interested clients may contact Alisa Carr acarr@leechtishman.com or Mala Mason mmason@leechtishman.com to attend or request seminar materials.

Alisa N. Carr is a partner in the Litigation Practice Group. She can be reached at 412.261.1600 or acarr@leechtishman.com. Please feel free to contact Alisa with any questions.

Leech Tishman is a firm dedicated to providing full-service commercial legal services to individuals, businesses, and institutions. We combine a deep understanding of our clients and their businesses with skilled legal counsel to find solutions. Leech Tishman offers legal services in alternative dispute resolution, bankruptcy & creditors’ rights, construction, corporate, employee benefits, employment, energy, environmental, safety & toxic torts, estates & trusts, government relations, immigration, insurance coverage & corporate risk mitigation, intellectual property, internal investigations, international legal matters, litigation, real estate, and taxation. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, Leech Tishman also has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Wilmington, DE. For more information call 412.261.1600 or visit us at www.leechtishman.com.

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