Small Business Blog
Avoiding an ADA Lawsuit: What You Need to Know
today at 10:09 am
When it comes to running a business there are so many different factors to consider. Keeping your employees happy should be a top priority. Some workers require special accommodations to access and move around the office. To prevent them from filing an ADA lawsuit, you need to be aware of their unique challenges.
What is an ADA lawsuit?
ADA stands for Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA allows people with disabilities to sue public places that don’t provide equal access. They file these claims through the federal court system. Investigations into ADA violations can also be filed through the Justice Department.
The ADA doesn’t permit plaintiffs to collect monetary damages. However, they receive compensation through the payment of attorney fees. If the Department of Justice sues you, you won’t have to pay their attorneys fees. However, if you lose, you may have to pay compensatory relief or civil penalties.
How to Prevent One
California and Florida have the highest number of ADA cases. In 2017, California accounted for 2,933 of the ADA filings of the 4,961 across the nation. This might have been because California state law allows a plaintiff to add a monetary claim for damages.
To ensure your business is protected, here are some steps you can take to avoid an ADA lawsuit.
1. Start With Your Parking Lot
Before you even evaluate the inside of your building, consider the exterior. Make sure your parking lot has the correct number of accessible parking spots with proper signage. For example, if you have 26 to 50 parking spaces, you need at least two accessible parking spots. These parking spaces need to be located as close to the main entrance as possible and on level ground.
Also, ensure your sidewalks are compliant with ADA guidelines. You may need to add a ramp leading into the main entrance for wheelchair access.
2. Have an Accessible Route to Your Front Entrance
Make sure all paths to the entrance are free from any excess slopes, steps or steep ramps. You want to ensure people with disabilities can easily maneuver the route. Also, make sure your doors are wide enough to allow wheelchairs to pass through effortlessly.
Keep in mind at least 60% of public entrances in newly built construction need to be accessible. Some features of accessibility include communication systems and signage.
3. Check Your Entryways
Your entryway must comply with multiple ADA standards. These include measurements for clearance, types of door surfaces, and landing features. For example, your door must provide at least 32 inches of clear width. This is measured between the face of the door and the opposite stop.
Following these guidelines can help you to prevent a drive-by lawsuit. This is when a person notices a violation when driving by the exterior of the building.
4. Measure Your Bathrooms
Public restrooms are essential places to make sure you follow all ADA requirements. Some common guidelines address the proper height of coat hooks, paper towels dispensers, and mirrors. Also, watch out for any unwrapped pipes or misplaced handle grab bars.
The ADA requires you to place grab bars at the back and side of toilet fixtures. Other bathroom guidelines include easy-to-use flush controls and enough space to navigate a wheelchair.
5. Ask a Professional
If you’re unsure if your business meets ADA requirements, check with a professional. They can come up with a cost-efficient plan to help you comply with the guidelines. The ability to prevent a lawsuit outweighs the price of hiring an ADA consultant.
To find the right one, make sure they are up to date on the latest regulations. Also, look into their experience and ask for references. You want to ensure they have a plan to increase your ADA compliance. This plan may consist of:
- Conducting a site audit
- Identify the needs of those affected by vision impairments
- Understanding changes that need to be made and how to implement them
- Testing the site after adjustments have been made
- Setting up an ongoing monitoring system
How to Prevent an ADA LawSuit
It is essential your office space can accommodate everyone, especially those with disabilities. This way, you can prevent any unexpected lawsuits. Follow these steps to ensure your company’s workplace is accessible for all employees and complies with ADA standards.
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Martin Banks grew up outside of Chicago and covers all things small-business related, as well as the world’s best hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks
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