In the employment world, we hear so often about Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, the go-to people for ADA employment claims oftentimes end up being the ones expected to know the most about Title III of the ADA – which prohibits discrimination by places of public accommodation.
Title III and the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) identify what buildings (specifically places of public accommodation and commercial facilities) must do to remain compliant with the law so that the entities do not discriminate against individuals with disabilities. The architectural guidelines specify different requirements based on when the property was built and whether it has been altered. For example, new construction (any facility first occupied after January 26, 1993, for which the last application for a building permit is complete after January 26, 1992) must be readily accessible for individuals with disabilities so long as it is not structurally impossible. Whereas, existing facilities must remove architectural barriers where such removal is readily achievable.
As with most states, Arizona has an analogous state law, the Arizonans with Disabilities Act (AzDA), which mirrors Title III in large part. One big difference is that it provides plaintiffs with a mechanism to obtain monetary damages — Title III does not.
The heart of Title III litigation often comes down to (1) what, if any, barriers exist; (2) whether the barriers can be, should be, or are required to be removed; (3) whether the defendant has any applicable defenses; and (4) whether the removal of any alleged barriers has been completed. For a place of public accommodation, there are many defenses that can be invoked – that are not used in employment-ADA matters - to demonstrate the company is in compliance with the law.
For those who want to learn more, the basics are in this video. Enjoy.
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!