- 2019 was a record-breaking year for lawsuits filed under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to analysis from law firm Seyfarth Shaw.
- Plaintiffs filed more than 11,000 ADA Title III lawsuits in 2019, up 8.8% from 2018. This number includes Title III lawsuits filed on all grounds — including physical facilities, websites and mobile applications, service animals, sign language interpreters, and more — and is the highest since Seyfarth began tracking these lawsuits in 2013.
- Eighty-four percent of all of the lawsuits were filed in just three states: California, New York and Florida. At the other end, businesses in North Dakota, South Dakota and Vermont have continued a three-year streak (2017-2019) of no Title III lawsuits.
For workplaces with 15 or more employees, Title I of the ADA protects qualified employees and applicants with a disability from workplace bias; many states have their own anti-disability-bias laws as well. The ADA defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, which can include walking, working, talking, and more.
Title III of the ADA requires places of "public accommodation" — including hotels, restaurants, doctors' offices, retail stores, libraries and private schools — to remove barriers to access for individuals with disabilities. Web and online access issues, in particular, have spawned a number of Title III lawsuits in recent years.
For applicants and employees with disabilities, whether or not the employer is considered a public accommodation, a reasonable accommodation must be provided unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer. This could include modifications or adjustments to a job, or the way it is performed, so the individual can perform the essential functions.
A reasonable accommodation may also involve additional leave time beyond what is otherwise legally required, though unlimited leave is not guaranteed under the ADA.