Filing Claims Under The Americans With Disabilities Act

Several California restaurants have been the target of disability discrimination lawsuits recently. Failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) forced Arctic Circle, a northern California restaurant, to close because its owners decided not to pay for the renovations required. The lawsuit alleged 22 violations of the ADA such as counters that were too high, doors that were not wide enough, and bathrooms that were too small to permit wheelchair access.

Popular Sacramento hamburger restaurant Squeeze Inn faced similar allegations. A Food Network program had done a show on the Squeeze Inn before a disabled woman sued the restaurant, which operated in a former coffee house. The woman cited lack of accessible tables and poor gravel parking lots as making the restaurant difficult for her to access. Though the woman dropped the lawsuit last fall, the restaurant’s owners did decide to move to a more accommodating location nearby. If poor accessibility has limited your ability to visit an establishment, a Los Angeles discrimination lawyer can help you fight for your rights.

California Law And The Americans With Disabilities Act

A disabled person has two options to file a claim against an establishment that he or she suspects is violating the ADA:

  • File a complaint directly with the Department of Justice. You can send a letter to the civil rights department providing your contact information, information about the business, and a description of the discrimination. The Department of Justice will then carry out its own investigation and decide what do to but will not represent you.
  • File a lawsuit in the United States District Court. If you file a lawsuit yourself or have an attorney represent you, the advantage is that you will be an integral part of the case. You may be able to reach a settlement with the business to ensure its compliance with the ADA.

Additionally, California is one of the few states that provide greater protections than the federal ADA. Here are two of the more important differences between state and federal law:

  • Generally, under the ADA, a victim can only seek to have the business correct its ADA violations. The victim cannot pursue monetary damages. California law, however, permits victims to obtain minimum damages and attorney fees.
  • California’s disability discrimination standards are themselves higher than those of the ADA. The ADA just requires that business do whatever is readily achievable and is not too difficult or expensive. California outlaws any discrimination or difference in the way that a business deals with the non-disabled versus the disabled.

Contact a Los Angeles employment lawyer at the Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob if a business has discriminated against you based on a disability.

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