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ADA Enforcement

ADA compliance

People with disabilities expect you to take positive steps to comply with the ADA. If you do not, your business 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.

State laws

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.

But, by far, the best way to prevent an ADA lawsuit is to learn about the ADA, continually educate your staff about their responsibilities, and take ongoing actions to comply.

Summary

  • People with disabilities can bring lawsuits in federal court and obtain court orders to stop ADA violations.
  • People with disabilities can also file complaints with the Department of Justice, which can investigate and attempt to resolve the complaint.
  • The Department of Justice is also authorized to bring ADA lawsuits in federal court.
  • Some states have laws similar to the ADA, but they are enforced in the state’s court system or by local civil rights commissions.
  • Some business and trade associations give advice on where to find legal assistance or practical help in solving ADA problems.
  • The best way to prevent an ADA lawsuit is to learn about the law, continually educate your staff about their responsibilities, and take ongoing actions to comply.