Motive of ADA lawsuit is financial benefit
The article, “Wineries sued for ADA violations” (Sept. 24), quoted me as saying “this makes me furious … It doesn’t reflect the needs of most people with disabilities.” What I said was that this type of lawsuit makes some people mad and some people money, but doesn’t usually make public accommodations more accessible.
The ADA was passed in 1990 as a civil rights law. It includes provisions that require public accommodations to remove barriers that exclude people with disabilities from full participation.
Twelve years after its passage, people with disabilities still cannot assume that businesses welcome them with accessible facilities. Some businesses have accessible entries and areas where business is conducted. Many more lack accessible parking, restrooms and sensitivity training for staff in serving customers with disabilities; a few operate as if there was no ADA.
What disappoints me about the people who filed this lawsuit is that the targeted businesses don’t fall into the “never heard of the ADA” category and often have, in fact, worked with members of the disabled community to identify and correct areas where access was lacking. It seems clear that the motive wasn’t to gain access, but to benefit financially.
If the worst violation in this suit was the lack of accessible counter space (which is easily and inexpensively remedied), it’s difficult to believe the suit couldn’t have been avoided by communicating with the winery owners.
Businesses who wish to learn more about their requirements under the ADA and other disability rights laws can contact FREED at 272-1732, or the Pacific Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center at 1-800-949-4232.
FREED Center for Independent Living
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