In response to a recent rash of lawsuits waged against local businesses, the City of Hollister is hosting an informational discussion on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Certified Access Inspector Brent Hipsher from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 15 in the Hollister City Council Chambers at 375 Fifth St.
The purpose of the event is to provide local businesses with information about their rights and responsibilities for ensuring proper accessibility.
Serial ADA lawsuits are not new to California businesses. It is estimated that as many as 14,000 suits have been filed in just the past few years by only a small number of lawyers causing many businesses to close, lay off employees or seek bankruptcy protection. As reported in the San Jose Mercury News late last year, a serial filer sued 39 businesses in the East Bay and South Bay areas in and around San Jose, targeting mom-and-pop shops owned by immigrants and minorities.
According to the California Restaurant Association, the ADA continues to be an actively litigated and addressed statute. Moreover, it continues to be imperative for business property owners and tenants, especially those in hospitality, to become familiar with the legal requirements they must fulfill to ensure equal access to their premises for persons with disabilities. Education and prompt action is the solution to avoid, if not minimize, financial exposure for violations of disability access laws. This will benefit both small and large companies for not being proactive and will lead to increased liability and cost in having to defend and settle ADA cases.
There are several common misconceptions about the ADA, which still persist despite the fact that the it was first enacted nearly 25 years ago. To best defend against an ADA claim, business owners are encouraged to not rely on common misconceptions and be sure their property is in compliance with the ADA.
Making a business accessible is not a one time endeavor, it is an ongoing responsibility, experts say. Various state and federal disability access laws apply to small businesses in California. Non-compliance can result in significant expense from defending and settling “drive-by” lawsuits. Business owners/tenants are responsible for making sure that businesses comply with the federal and state ADA requirements.
For more information, attend the City of Hollister ADA discussion and download the "ADA Requirements" and "Your Small Business FAQs" and resource brochure developed by the City of Hollister Development Services Department.