March 22, 2017

Does ADA Issues Really Have to be Scary?

The Americans with Disabilities Act officially became law in 1990. It states that individuals with disabilities cannot be discriminated against in areas of public life, including jobs, schools and transportation. The purpose of the law is to protect the rights of those with disabilities, but in some instances, people are unaware that they are violating the ADA with their actions.

The California Disabilities Act
The ADA applies to all 50 states, but California residents can use the ADA in addition to the California Unruh Act to force businesses to comply with access requirements.

The Unruh Civil Rights Act states that all people are entitled to a full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in business establishments.” It also includes housing and public accommodations in the state.

An entitled disabled individual is entitled to a minimum amount of damages of $1,000 or $4,000, depending on the violation. For this reason, property owners in a commercial setting need to be mindful of the Unruh act, in addition to ADA laws while residing in California.

The Frequency of California ADA Violations

In 2014, an investigative report discovered that California outpaced every other state in the U.S. in terms of the number of ADA lawsuits filed. Many small businesses had been involved in the lawsuits as a result of violating building codes.

Some of the cases examined included violations pertaining to mislabeled parking areas, sidewalk/street boundaries, and outdated bathroom signs for wheelchair users. Many of these filings pertained to commercial properties.

Today, these violations may be unknowingly committed by property owners across the state.

A few of the most common ADA miscues in California include:

    • Small loading zones and van access aisles
    • Non-compliant accessible parking spaces
    • Non-compliant or missing parking signage
    • Insufficient path of travel to parking lot from the sidewalk
    • Non-accessible entry doors
    • Non-accessible curb ramps
    • Inadequate receptions/sales counter heights
    • Non-accessible toilet room entries

However, you do not have to fall victim to some of these errors and face penalties under state and federal law.

How to Comply with ADA Regulations

The easiest way to ensure that you are complying with ADA regulations is to familiarize yourself with the text of the law, or hire a cASP expert. The full ADA can be found on the California Department of Rehabilitation website. Some of the topics addressed in the law include public accommodations, violation consequences, and information on regulation compliance.

California also has its own definition of disability, which can also be found online under the Fair Employment Housing Act. The regulations state that individuals cannot be discriminated as a result of factors including age, race, disability or medical condition.

Both the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the ADA were created to improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities, in addition to preventing discrimination. Conforming to these laws can ensure that your property is welcoming to everyone, regardless of their disability status.