Is your company’s website accessible to individuals with disabilities? If not, brace for potential class action litigation. There’s been a wave of lawsuits alleging popular websites violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, and more could be on the way.
Litigation over website accessibility isn’t new. The National Federation of the Blind brought an important test case against Target Corp in 2008, which ended in a $6 million settlement.
What’s changed is the sheer volume of class action litigation. In a recent client alert, attorneys at Vedder Price noted a “flurry” of these lawsuits. “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,” they wrote.
A legally blind man filed one such lawsuit against the National Basketball Association in November, alleging the NBA’s website is a “facility” that must be readily accessible to the visually impaired under the ADA. A blind woman filed a similar suit against Red Roof Inn Inc. in October. And eHarmony Inc., a dating website, got hit with a similar putative class action in August.
Making matters worse for companies, the U.S. Department of Justice is also wielding the ADA against web sites and mobile apps. In 2014, the DOJ announced settlements with H&R Block Inc. and Peapod Inc., both of which were accused of failing to accommodate individuals who are blind or have low vision, who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who have physical disabilities affecting manual dexterity.