Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act seeks to eliminate obstacles to the full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges and accommodations encountered by persons with disabilities. The law has become an increasingly important part of the legal landscape, affecting practically every business in the country. While Title III affords companies a useful roadmap to providing individuals with disabilities equal access to "public accommodations," it also raises the potential for ruinous litigation, bad publicity and significant damages for those businesses that do not carefully evaluate their compliance. With experienced attorneys who are well-versed in the many aspects of Title III, Wiley Rein provides counsel to companies in this continually evolving area, from assessing compliance with Title III's thicket of regulation to defending against litigation initiated by private entities and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Compliance and Enforcement
Wiley Rein assists companies in making sure that their facilities comply with Title III's three main requirements:
- Removal of architectural barriers;
- Providing auxiliary aids and services to disabled individuals; and
- Reasonable modification of policies, practices and procedures so that services and places of public accommodation can be fully and equally enjoyed by individuals with disabilities.
Our attorneys effectively partner with outside technical experts to review compliance before a claim is filed. Because such evaluations can generally be obtained in a manner that is protected by the attorney-client privilege, we provide candid expert advice that permits our clients to properly evaluate and redress potential liabilities. Our attorneys also have extensive experience negotiating with DOJ's Civil Rights Division-the Washington, DC based office that is responsible for enforcing Title III.
Even a company's best efforts to comply with Title III may not be enough to avoid litigation. In recent years, a growing number of "private attorneys general" have filed suit for alleged Title III violations, and the Department of Justice has stepped up enforcement efforts. Companies must be prepared to defend themselves and their policies. Wiley Rein provides its clients with a deep pool of experience in deterring and combating legal challenges. Our attorneys understand the unique challenges that are posed by Title III litigation, and have developed strategies to efficiently and favorably resolve claims.
A sampling of recent public accommodations matters handled by Wiley Rein includes:
- Representing companies in DOJ proceedings and civil litigation on a broad range of Title III challenges, including removal of architectural, communication and transportation barriers; provision of auxiliary aids and services; and modification of policies, practices and procedures.
- Counseling parent companies and franchisors in structuring corporate relationships to minimize potential liability and ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Drafting amicus brief requesting that the Ninth Circuit En Banc Court rehear a case imposing new burdens on existing facilities to remove architectural barriers.
- For a national rental car company, negotiating a groundbreaking agreement with the DOJ designed to ensure access to disabled customers as they travel between airport terminals and adjacent rental car lots.
- Securing a multi-million dollar settlement of a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of disabled plaintiffs against Washington DC's MetroAccess, alleging that Metro had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by failing to provide adequate service to customers with disabilities. This matter permitted our attorneys to work closely with disability rights advocates and DOJ and to expand our working relationships with groups that are most likely to pursue Title III challenges.
- Conducting analyses of companies' current compliance with Title III.
- Negotiating resolution of DOJ investigations related to the alleged failure of educational institutions to modify curricula to permit access to disabled students.
- Working with telecommunications companies to ensure provisions for effective communication with customers who have vision, hearing, speech or cognitive disabilities.
ADA and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design: Legal Issues and Liability Reduction
By Todd A. Bromberg, Jillian Volkmar, P. Vicky Chatha, Jamie Aycock and James Slattery
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Issues Final Regulations Expanding Scope of Coverage for Employees Claiming Discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act
By Todd A. Bromberg and James Slattery
May 18, 2011
Ninth Circuit Issues Sweeping New Ruling Expanding the Scope of Disabled Individuals' Standing to Challenge the Architectural Barriers of a Public Accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act
By Todd A. Bromberg and James Slattery
April 2011 | The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel Vol. 19, No. 4