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Businesses Ask SCOTUS Whether ADA Applies to the Internet

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Businesses Ask SCOTUS Whether ADA Applies to the Internet

Monday, July 29, 2019
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ANCOR is sharing this article by the Washington Post of a case involving a private business website and the level of accessibility required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If review is accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court, this will be the latest case overseen by that court.

As written by the Washington Post:

“Domino’s sells more than 2.5 million pizzas every day, and the company says it offers at least 15 ways to order one. But Guillermo Robles, who is blind, said neither the company’s website nor its mobile app allowed him to order the pizza he wanted, or receive a discount for ordering online.

He sued.

Now Domino’s, backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the nation’s largest retailers, wants the Supreme Court to step in to decide whether the Americans With Disabilities Act, which has transformed America’s physical landscape, applies equally to the Internet.

[…]

Lower courts have said the statute does apply, although they have disagreed about exactly when and to whom. As a result, the number of lawsuits has exploded: 2,250 federal suits asserting ADA violations based on website inaccessibility were filed in 2018, nearly triple the number from the year before, according to the Domino’s brief.

[…]

Businesses have rallied around the Robles case in their effort to persuade the Supreme Court to intervene, even as they profess that it would be in their best interests to make their goods as accessible as possible.

Robles sued because he said his attempts in 2016 to use the Domino’s website and mobile app to order a pizza for delivery were unsuccessful.

A federal judge in California agreed with Robles that the ADA covered websites but dismissed the lawsuit. He agreed with Domino’s that its due process rights would be violated because the Department of Justice has never made good on its obligation to issue guidance on exactly how websites and apps should comply with Title III of the act, which concerns public accommodations.

But earlier this year, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit disagreed.

[…]

Domino’s and the business interests urging the court’s intervention said the decision in the 9th Circuit — which covers California and most of the western United States — was a game-changer.

[…]

But Eve Hill, a Baltimore attorney who has worked on website accessibility cases for the National Federation of the Blind and at Justice, said the decision “breaks no new ground.”

Courts across the country have found that websites and apps must comply with the ADA, she said. Companies may not like the message, but that doesn’t mean there is a need for the Supreme Court’s attention.

And she said the Justice Department’s inability to issue guidelines for compliance — it announced in 2017 that it was giving up the effort — does not mean companies are helpless. The lack of a national standard could be seen “as a feature, not a bug,” freeing companies to comply in different ways, Hill said.”