For years, we have been documenting the rise in wage/hour class action lawsuits and precautionary steps your organization may take to mitigate the risks and liability inherent in those claims. And, while wage/hour lawsuits continue to be filed at record rates, the plaintiffs’ bar is now flirting with a new type of class action lawsuit which poses a threat to any employer that operates a website. These lawsuits allege that company websites are inaccessible to the blind and/or visually impaired and therefore violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and various states’ laws.
Title III prohibits discrimination against individuals “on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.” Title III requires “reasonable modification” of “policies, practices, and procedures” and the provision of “auxiliary aids” to ensure effective communication with the disabled. A flurry of recent lawsuits and attorney demand letters allege that websites violate Title III because they are not accessible to the visually impaired; for example, that they are not compatible with screen-reading software that describes images on the website, that they require the use of a mouse instead of making all functionality available from a keyboard, or that video content does not contain an audio description.
Because these lawsuits are relatively new, courts are split as to whether Title III applies only to websites that have a sufficient nexus to a company’s physical locations, or whether it applies to websites in and of themselves. Most of these cases are in the early stages of litigation and, so far, provide little substantive guidance on what steps, if any, businesses must take to make their websites compliant with Title III.
Continue Reading Is Your Website Accessible to the Blind and Visually Impaired? Plaintiffs’ Firms and the Department of Justice Are Taking Notice