People with disabilities expect businesses to take positive steps to comply with the ADA. Businesses that do not take steps to comply may face legal consequences.
Several ways to obtain ADA compliance
The ADA gives people with disabilities the right to file lawsuits in Federal court and obtain Federal court orders to stop ADA violations. If you are sued by an individual and you lose the case, you may have to pay the winning party’s attorney’s fees. The ADA does not permit monetary damages to be assessed against you in lawsuits brought by individuals. (Some state and local antidiscrimination laws allow compensatory damages to be assessed against you, but not the ADA.)
People with disabilities can also file complaints with the Justice Department, which can investigate and attempt to resolve the complaint.
The Justice Department is also authorized to file lawsuits in Federal court in cases of “general public importance” or where a “pattern or practice” of discrimination is alleged. If you are sued by the Justice Department and you lose the case, you will not have to pay the Department’s attorneys’ fees, but you may have to pay monetary damages for compensatory relief (but not punitive relief) and civil penalties. Civil penalties may run as high as $55,000 for a first violation or $110,000 for a subsequent violation.
Some states have laws similar to the ADA, but they are enforced in the state’s court system or by local civil rights commissions. For information about antidiscrimination laws in your state, contact your State Attorney General’s office.
What to do if you are sued
Some business and trade associations give advice on where to find legal assistance or practical help in solving the access problems that led to the lawsuit.