It’s always a good idea to have a Manhattan restaurant attorney review your premises, and work with management and staff to ensure compliance. Common violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act include inaccessible fitting rooms and bathrooms; sales counters that are inaccessible; pay phones, towel dispensers, bag dispensers and other consumer devices mounted at improper heights; narrow aisles and checkout barriers.
A restaurant or business owner should not ignore ADA-compliance issues with the belief that the government will not uncover the violations. Typical violations are reported by individuals protected under the ADA law or by advocates for such individuals. And being sued for an ADA violation will often be more costly than reviewing your facility for compliance and making the necessary repairs.
Of course, those businesses already facing a lawsuit alleging ADA violations must immediately secure experienced legal representation.
In addition to advocacy groups, an increasing number of ADA-protected individuals have taken it upon themselves to police the system by hunting for and reporting violating businesses.
The New York Post reported last year about a Brooklyn amputee who went on a “suing spree” that targeted businesses which were not handicapped accessible. The double amputee in a wheelchair filed 87 federal claims in a year, each seeking damages and attorney fees.
He filed lawsuits at the rate of about one a day, targeting businesses from Dunkin’ Donuts in Brooklyn to Louis Vuitton in Manhattan. The Brooklyn resident, who lost his legs in a motor vehicle accident seven years ago, rolled down the street looking for businesses he could not enter.
One restaurant owner said the thousands of dollars in resultant legal fees could be devastating to her business. Establishing a proactive campaign to ensure your business is ADA compliant can be far less costly.
And compliance just got a bit more complicated. Beginning March 15, 2012, the Department of Justice requires new construction and alterations to become compliance with the updated 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. From Sept. 15, 2010 to March 15, 2012, entities had been able to choose between the standards set in 1991 and the new standards enacted in 2010.
The new standards make changes to requirements for state and local government facilities, public accommodations and commercial establishments. Significant changes are also in store for recreational facilities, including swimming pools, miniature golf areas, saunas, steam rooms, spas, fishing piers, gyms and recreational boating facilities.
The Wright Law Firm is a business law firm located in Midtown Manhattan. Call (212) 619-1500 for a confidential consultation.