The U.S. Supreme Court Lets ADA Website Violation Case Proceed

By: Liz Hartsel

The U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear a case about whether Domino’s website is required to be accessible for the blind and visually impaired, leaving in place the lower court’s decision that the plaintiff could under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).

With this case, the Supreme Court had the opportunity to determine the extent to which businesses must make their websites and apps accessible to the blind and visually impaired—a question that was at the center of 2,285 federal cases in 2018.[1]  Indeed, lower courts are split on whether the ADA applies to websites and the Justice Department has thus far declined to offer guidance.[2] For this reason, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups who represented 500,000 restaurants and 300,000 businesses had joined Domino’s in urging the Supreme Court to hear this case in order to avoid the ensuing “tsunami of litigation” that may result from judges nationwide seeing the appeals court’s decision as “imposing a nationwide website-accessibility mandate.” [3]

But as plaintiff’s counsel explained, “nobody disputes” that “[t]he blind and visually impaired must have access to websites and apps to fully and equally participate in modern society.”[4]  Moreover, the internet is where many people online shop and conduct due diligence on who they want to do business with.

It is, therefore, in your business’s best interest to ensure that its website and app are compliant with the ADA, especially if you sell anything on your website. To determine whether your website complies with the ADA, you should review the currently accepted guidance document, which is available here. Complying with the ADA will not only prevent a lawsuit, it will ensure that your company is able to reach as many potential customers, clients, and business partners as possible.

 For further information, please contact Liz Hartsel at Fortis Law Partners.

 

[1] On ADA Website Compliance, the DOJ Has a Chance to End the Chaos in the Courts, Sept. 24, 2019, available at https://www.corporatecomplianceinsights.com/ada-compliance-doj/

[2] Id.

[3] Supreme Court allows blind people to sue retailers if their websites are not accessible, Oct. 7, 2019, available at https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-10-07/blind-person-dominos-ada-supreme-court-disabled.

[4] Why the fate of online accessibility may rest with a Domino's Pizza lawsuit, available at https://www.cnet.com/news/why-the-fate-of-online-accessibility-may-rest-with-a-dominos-pizza-lawsuit/