Website accessibility suits flooded the courts in 2017
- Federal courts have been flooded with lawsuits alleging that business' websites are inaccessible to individuals with disabilities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to ADA Title III, a Seyfarth Shaw blog. Plaintiffs filed at least 814 such lawsuits last year.
- Most of the suits were filed in New York (335) and Florida (325), based on Seyfarth Shaw's count. The law firm found only nine suits in California's federal courts, but 115 filings in state courts. Out of 13 federal cases for which defendants filed motions to dismiss, the courts granted only two.
- At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) appears to have abandoned plans to adopt web accessibility regulations. But this inaction won't stop the lawsuits, the firm said; "Only an amendment to the ADA can do that, which we believe is highly unlikely."
While the courts have not yet reached a consensus on whether the ADA covers websites, employers are free to follow guidelines from groups like the Web Accessibility Initiative. Experts often say that if DOJ does eventually adopt website regulations, it would likely incorporate WAI's guidelines.
For HR, the biggest concern may be job postings. Job board technology has improved dramatically in recent years, partly due to big name interest in the platforms, including Google. But HR may need to exert some some control over how content is displayed and whether sites are built to compliment and work with accessibility tools.
If nothing else, the lawsuits should serve as a reminder that employers should consider who can read their job postings and how. That thinking also should extend to onboarding, training and the rest of the employee experience, as well.
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