Enacted in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) is a landmark paradigm of U.S. civil rights legislation, modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in order to bar discrimination against and ensure opportunities for people with disabilities. While the goals of this law are unquestionably laudable, however, its implementation in practice has produced mixed results. While a number of important strides have been made, some have noted that the ADA has not had much success in expanding hiring goals , while others denounce the misapplication of the law for monetary gain by unscrupulous operators.
For about the past year and a half, it has seemed to me as though there has been a marked increase in the number of ADA lawsuits brought in Santa Clara County. Several of my clients who own commercial real estate locally have been sued for violations of the ADA at their properties during this period of time. In addition, I have been told by several of my colleagues that they have been experiencing the same rise in litigation. In view of this experience, I am curious to find out if my perception of this situation is just a hiccup in the data based on my small sample size, an existing circumstance that simply escaped my attention, or some larger happening.
I would like to pose this question to those of my readers who are involved with commercial real estate access matters: What have been your recent experiences with ADA litigation? If you’re interested in telling me about your own encounters with these matters, please post them in the comments below this article. If there are enough responses from which to draw a meaningful conclusion, I will report back with the results.