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The ADA, the Unruh Act, and California’s Construction-Related Accessibility Standards Act

handicap-1177156-m.jpgThe Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal law that requires all people receive full and equal access to public accommodations. Title Ill of the ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases or operates a place of public accommodation.

Public accommodations are defined as goods, services and privileges that are made available to the public. The ADA established requirements for twelve categories of public accommodations, which include:

• shopping malls,
• stores,
• restaurants,
• bars,
• service establishments,
• theaters,
• hotels,
• recreational facilities,
• private museums and schools,
• doctors’ and dentists’ offices,
• and other businesses.

Nearly all types of businesses that serve the public are included in the twelve categories, regardless of the size of the business or the age of their buildings. Commercial facilities, such as office buildings, factories, warehouses, or other facilities that do not provide goods or services directly to the public are nevertheless subject to the ADA’s requirements when they undergo construction and alterations.

The ADA requires removal of barriers to accessibility when it is “readily achievable” to do so. Readily achievable has been defined as “easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense.” This requirement is based on the size and resources of a business. In determining whether an action is readily achievable, courts have considered the following factors:

• the nature and cost of the action needed to remove the barrier,
• the overall financial resources of the site involved,
• the fiscal relationship of the site in question to any parent entity,
• the overall financial resources of the parent entity.

Why is ADA compliance important for California business owners? California has 12% of the American population, but 40% of the ADA related litigation.

Click here for the link to Part 2 of this Article dealing with the Unruh Act and California’s Construction Related Accessibility Standards Act.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. It should not be acted upon without consulting a licensed California attorney about the facts, particular needs and questions of the person or entity considering these issues.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Simon Mazzola provides legal expertise in business, construction and employment matters. The Mazzola Law Office – P.C., 1001 Bayhill Drive, Suite 200, San Bruno, California 94066. Telephone: (650) 403‐4802