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Northern California Employment Law Attorneys

Governor Approves ADA Access Bill that Benefits Disabled Individuals and Businesses


On Sunday, October 11, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1230, known as the California Americans with Disabilities Capital Access Loan Program. The law is designed to provide funds to California small businesses so that they may make renovations and improvements to their facilities in order to bring the establishments into line with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements regarding access to businesses. Not only does this improve access for disabled individuals, enabling them to comfortably make use of more facilities and services, but it also helps protect the business owners from lawsuits filed on behalf of disabled clients alleging violations of the ADA.

What Remedies Can Be Ordered After a Successful ADA Access Lawsuit?

Generally speaking, the ADA requires businesses to take readily achievable measures to remove architectural barriers that impede a disabled individual’s ability to access and make use of a business’s facilities and establishment. Determining whether a modification or measure is “readily achievable” is a fact-based inquiry that looks at the cost of the modification, the resources of the business, and how the modification will impact the business’s continuing function. Given that the intent of the ADA is to improve access to public facilities and private businesses open to the public for those of limited mobility, one might conclude that in any ADA access lawsuit, the odds are in favor of the disabled individual.

A successful ADA access lawsuit allows the prevailing individual to recover his or her fees as well as civil penalties. The business may also be ordered to make appropriate modifications to their facilities in order to bring the facilities into compliance with the ADA. This alone may cost businesses thousands of dollars. The ADA also allows for the court to impose a civil penalty upon the business that can be as high as $55,000 for a first violation of the ADA: subsequent violations can be punished by up to $110,000 in fines for each additional violation. Finally, the ADA allows the prevailing plaintiff to recover his or her “reasonable expenses” incurred in bringing the suit. This would include not only the cost of his or her legal team but could also include administrative costs and filing fees as well as expert witness fees and costs. All told, a first violation of the ADA access rules by a business can end up costing that business tens of thousands of dollars – if not more – in fines and costs.

The Hidden Benefit of This New Law

The law signed by Governor Brown directly benefits disabled individuals in that it enables small businesses who may not have many resources to make much-needed improvements to the accessibility of their facilities. But the availability of these funds to small businesses can also benefit disabled individuals who find it necessary to file a lawsuit against a business over the business’s lack of ADA access compliance. A business will now have a much more difficult time arguing that it did not have the resources necessary to make improvements to its facility’s accessibility; this in turn should make it easier for disabled plaintiffs to establish a violation of the ADA.

Contact a Seasoned California ADA Access Plaintiff’s Attorney

Attorney Gay Carroll-Haring at The Law Offices of Gay Carroll-Haring is here to assist you if you are a disabled resident of California and have encountered a business that has refused to make reasonable accommodations to enable you to access the business or facility. Gay Caroll-Haring vigorously and professionally represents the interests of her clients and works tirelessly to achieve a favorable outcome on their behalf. Contact her office today and discuss your case by calling (916) 443-3553 or by filling out the contact form here.