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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Action ALERT: Attack on the ADA, U.S. Congress Bill Diminishes Civil Rights To Access Places That Serve The Public

The U.S. Congress returns to session in Washington, DC (Sept. 6, 2016), and among the items they will consider is voting on H.R. 3765, which is known as the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2015. 

We need your help to contact members of the U.S. House at this link to ask them to vote NO on H.R. 3765 this month. 

Thus far, lots of folks have taken action, but we still need help! HR 3765 is a terrible bill that would diminish our civil right to access in places that serve the public.

H.R. 3765 would eliminate the responsibility of businesses to address their obligations under the ADA. This bill would treat people with disabilities as second-class citizens.  It significantly impacts our ability to file complaints based on the ADA by imposing a waiting period. Yes, you read that right. 

Access Living, Center for Independent Living (cil) for Metro Chicago is reaching out for ALL of us to Advocate, for Business Accessibility - Say NO To H.R. 3745.
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Background:  On July 7, 2016, the House Judiciary Committee held a Mark-up on H.R. 3765, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2015.  The bill passed as amended by a 15-6 vote. A summary of the bill can be found here.

1.  The bill’s proponents have forgotten the everyday experiences of millions of ordinary people with disabilities who cannot shop, enjoy recreation, or transact personal business like most Americans take for granted.  

2. When business owners have resisted the ADA for over 26 years, sometimes a lawsuit is the only way to make the ADA’s promise of equal participation real. Even so, if you examine the court records, there really are very few ADA cases.  

3. The ADA is carefully crafted to take the needs of business owners into account. Compliance is simply not exorbitantly expensive. But this bill would remove any reason for a business to comply. Instead, they can take a “wait and see” attitude, and do nothing until they happen to be sued.  

4. HR 3765 requires a person with a disability to give a business owner who has barriers to access a written notice, and 60 days to even acknowledge that there is a problem—and then another 120 days to begin to fix it. No other civil rights group is forced to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights. 

5. HR 3765 calls for education by the Department of Justice. But there are already extensive efforts, including by DOJ and the ADA Centers, to educate business owners about their ADA obligations.. Businesses that violate the ADA should be held accountable.  

6. Concerns about money damage awards are behind this bill. But that has nothing to do with the ADA, because the ADA does not allow money damages. Such damages are only available under a handful of state laws. This bill will do nothing to prevent damage awards under state laws.  

7. Accessibility standards, such as those the ADA includes, are extremely important. They are not minor details, but rather, are essential to ensure true accessibility. 

8. Concerns about serial litigants are also behind this bill. However, courts already have the power to deal with frivolous litigants and their attorneys.

9. It is troubling how this bill blames people with disabilities for public accommodations' failure to comply with the ADA. Why should people with disabilities pay the price of an inaccessible environment, where we cannot live our lives like everyone else? The true blame belongs on the heads of business owners who have delayed for 26 years and done nothing to comply with the ADA. 

Note: Money damages are not allowed under Title III of the ADA, which applies to privately operated public accommodations, commercial facilities, and private entities offering certain examinations and courses. See 42 U.S.C. § 12188; 42 U.S.C §§ 12182 and 12181(7); 42 U.S.C. §§ 12183 and 12181(2); and 42 U.S.C. § 12189.

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