New Legislation Threatens Efficacy of Americans With Disabilities Act

George H.W. Bush signs the Americans With Disabilities into law on July 26th, 1990. (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. House recently passed a bill that makes it harder for people with disabilities to sue for discrimination, in an effort to keep unscrupulous attorneys from exploiting business owners. Under the bill, attorneys cannot file ADA-related suits in federal court unless they give that business 60 days to devise a plan to fix the problem, and another 120 days to implement the changes.

Representative Ted Poe of Texas, who co-sponsored the bill, believes it will stop the flow of “drive-by lawsuits.”

“There is now a whole industry made up of people who prey on small business owners and file unnecessary and abusive lawsuits,” Poe said in a statement. “This bill will change that by requiring that the business owners have time to fix what is allegedly broken.”

Many disability advocacy groups, including Equal Entry, are concerned that this bill will weaken incentives for businesses to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which ordered equal access to public accommodations.

The American Civil Liberties Union has issued the following statement:

“This scheme removes the business’s incentive to proactively ensure that it is accessible to people with disabilities. Instead, businesses will simply wait until someone’s right to access is violated and notification is received before making the change they were already obligated to make.”

What do you think about this legislation? Let us know in the comments.

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