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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Action Alert: Help Us Stop Attacks on the ADA!

Each year we see new versions of ‘ADA Notification’ bills get introduced in Congress. To this point they have failed to move, but they are continuing to build support. This year alone we’ve seen three bills introduced, which NCIL’s ADA Civil Rights Subcommittee wrote about in last week’s WAM. The common thread among all three bills, as well as previous iterations, is that they require people with disabilities to wait even longer to exercise our civil rights. If any of these bills pass, people with disabilities will be the only protected class of individuals required to wait a set amount of time for our rights to be recognized. Twenty-six years after the ADA was passed, this is unacceptable.

This Thursday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice will be holding a hearing on “Examining Legislation to Promote the Effective Enforcement of the ADA’s Public Accommodation Provisions.” NCIL’s Executive Director, Kelly Buckland, has been invited to testify. Kelly will be discussing the importance of the ADA and the significant harms that these bills would cause if passed.

In a recent statement by Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), he said that the intent behind H.R. 3765 is to protect American businesses from “cash-hungry attorneys and plaintiffs” who will “file a lawsuit and make some cash.” This has been the intent behind all of the ADA notification bills we’ve seen, and these efforts are sorely misguided. The problem Congress is trying to fix will not be solved with these bills, because it is not a problem with the ADA. In fact, Title III of the ADA does not authorize damages; any monetary damages for accessibility violations are based on state laws in only a handful of states.

Additionally, H.R. 3765 takes ADA notification bills to a new and even more dangerous level. First, it prohibits people from sending any type of pre-suit notification alleging a violation of section 302 or 303 of the ADA without including a list of specific information, and it makes it a crime to file without meeting these requirements by imposing a criminal fine. Second, the business owner or operator then has 60 days to provide a ‘written description outlining improvements that will be made to remove the barrier,’ and an additional 120 days to ‘remove the barrier or make substantial progress in removing the period.’ Only after that can a civil action be taken.

It is shameful that after 26 years, businesses may be given so much additional time to comply – or even just ‘make substantial progress’ toward complying – with the ADA. Even worse is the possibility of being fined for trying to have our rights enforced!

Members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice need to hear from NCIL members around the country about the dangers of this bill. These three bills would create additional barriers to filing a complaint under the ADA, making the law – and our rights – even harder to enforce. Please contact the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice at (202) 225-3951 and tell them why you oppose these bills! Then send an email to Chairman Franks and Ranking Member Cohen’s staffers. We have drafted a letter (below) for your convenience, and please feel free to change as necessary. You can contact Chairman Franks’ Deputy Chief Counsel, Zachary Somers, at zachary.somers@mail.house.gov. You can contact Ranking Member Cohen’s Legislative Director, Matthew Weisman, at matthew.weisman@mail.house.gov. In light of the hearing on Thursday, please contact them as soon as possible!

Draft letter to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice:

Dear (Member)

I’m writing to you today to express my opposition to H.R. 3765, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2015. This bill, along with H.R. 241 (the ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services (ACCESS) Act of 2015) and H.R. 4719 (the Correcting Obstructions to Mediate, Prevent, and Limit Inaccessibility (COMPLI) Act) poses significant risks to the people with disabilities and our ability to access our communities. 

While the intent behind these bills is to protect American businesses from “cash-hungry attorneys and plaintiffs” who will “file a lawsuit and make some cash,” these efforts are misguided. The problems you are trying to fix will not be solved with these bills, because they are not problems with the ADA. In fact, Title III of the ADA does not authorize damages; any monetary damages for accessibility violations are based on state laws in only a handful of states.

What this legislation would do is make people with disabilities wait even longer to see our rights recognized. If any of these bills turn into law, we would expect to see much less voluntary compliance with the ADA. Twenty-six years after the passage of the ADA, that is unacceptable.

We are also very concerned about the language specific to H.R. 3765 that would impose criminal fines on individuals filing a pre-suit notification that does not meet specific requirements. In no other civil rights legislation is it a crime to file a complaint!

People with disabilities deserve to have the same level of access as people without disabilities. The ADA ensured us the right to equality, and these bills threaten to erode that right.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

Comments

  1. Michelle Hart says:

    Please don’t turn back the clock for Americans who have disabilities.

  2. ADA does not do much in the way of enforcement or protection now, in the real world. Especially when just filing a complaint is getting more difficult for people with disabilities. Where just calling the ADA hotline for general public based violations, use to be enough to file an official complaint, to be investigated..

    I know this as fact Because today, I had tried to file a complaint with the ADA hotline, like i have always done since before 2008. Only to discover that I was not allowed to submit a general ADA violation complaint over the phone anymore, while details of the incident was still fresh in mind, before I forget them due to disabilities.

    ADA would do nothing for me, when 32+ employers all told me exactly the same thing after my interview was over, “Position was filled already”, (prior to my interview) where the help wanted sign, was still up for MONTHS after my interview for the only opening they had.
    All because of 2 loop holes
    These businesses were too small to waste resources of interviewing new people, when they already filled the position , it huts their bottom line to severely to conduct my interview if they had no intention of hiring me in the first place, and not knowing before the interview that I was a person with disabilities in the first place.

    1. that if you have say, heart surgery to correct a birth defect which “could” but “Not does” impact the safety of a manual labor job, you can not withhold that information in the interview. prior court ruling Driver vs city bus line.

    2. court rulings presidence if employer says “position was filled already” after interview is concluded. It is not discrimination, because it is impossible for a person with disabilities, to prove that said position was not filled at the conclusion of their interview, because they can not get access to the other interviews and the hiring papers of the “claimed new hire”. Deliberate CATCH 22 to legalize discrimination of not hiring in first place.

    So any further hurtles is going to actually make a already difficult situation into an impossible one. And that the ADA should just be stricken all together since it would be pointless to have it, if it is unenforceable due to being too difficult for the person with disabilities to navigate enforcement hurtles of the law.
    I am a person with disabilities who became officially “disabled” not due to lack of capability, but the public perception that I should not be allowed to participate or am incapable of participating.
    And in the REAL world, ADA does nothing, when the barrier is other people within society and not inanimate objects.

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