Sacramento, Calif – Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, R-Roseville, today announced that she has introduced two important measures that will curtail frivolous Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits and pinpoint conflicting state and federal ADA regulations.
One measure, Assembly Bill 1878, would give California’s most vulnerable small businesses an opportunity to correct an ADA violation before a lawsuit can be filed. Once a business has received a written notice of violation, they would be given 120 days to bring their business into compliance.
Approximately 98% of California businesses are out of compliance with state and/or federal disability access laws. The complex and inconsistent regulations regarding disability access make it difficult for willing business owners to comply with the complicated and changing regulations and give lawsuit abusers the opportunity to take advantage of the confusing laws. This is harmful to both individuals with a disability seeking access and businesses that are exposed to civil actions, Gaines said.
“The unfortunate reality is that there are individuals who are capitalizing on the complex access regulations enacted by the state and federal government for personal benefit,” Gaines said. “Businesses can be sued for thousands of dollars for simple faults such as a railing height being off by a centimeter or parking lot striping not being the right shade of a particular color. Many times, businesses want to correct the error to allow for more access to their place of business. These frivolous lawsuits are making it harder for the business to come into compliance, especially in this difficult economic environment.”
The other measure, Assembly Bill 1879, requires the State Architect to compile a list of all federal and state disability access regulations and any conflicts in state and federal regulations must be identified. “As California continually adds and changes disability access regulations, it is difficult for business to keep up,” Gaines said. “There are instances when state regulations are in conflict with federal regulations, making it even more difficult for businesses to be compliant.”
Legislation in 2008 created a commission to address problems with disability access, however in three years the commission has still not completed the mission statement. Businesses cannot wait years for this information to be brought to light, Gaines said.
“Lawsuit abuse and more regulations are not leading to greater access and compliance, which was the intended purpose of the state and federal access laws implemented in 1960 and 1990, respectively,” Gaines said. “Rather, these landmark pieces of legislation have created an unintentional consequence – having businesses close their doors because of great cost and limited options. While there is a need to preserve the right for a person to have access, there is a corresponding need to create opportunities for a business to give people access to do what the original laws intended – create more access.”
Assemblywoman Beth Gaines represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes portions of Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado & Alpine Counties.