Are Online Only Businesses a Place of Public Accomodation?

U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter, of the Southern District of New York recently held that a defendant's online business is a public accomodation covered under the ADA.   

In Loadholt v. ShirtSpace, a visually-impaired plaintiff filed an ADA lawsuit against an online store, claiming that he was not able to use the website with the help of screen reading software. The defendant, ShirtSpace, filed a motion to dismiss the case based on lack of standing and the argument that a standalone website is not a place of public accommodation.

The court denied the motion to dismiss under both 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) arguments. To establish standing in an ADA website case, the plaintiff must allege when they attempted to access the website, what they were attempting to do, the specific barriers that prevented them from accessing the website, and how they intend to use the website in the future. The court found that the plaintiff had sufficiently alleged injury in fact by stating that he wanted to purchase a T-shirt, which showed his intent to return to the website once it was made accessible.

In regards to the 12(b)(6) argument, the court found that although the Second Circuit has not expressly decided whether a website is a place of public accommodation, the majority of courts in the district have held that they are. The court found that the plaintiff had sufficiently alleged discrimination by stating that he was unable to access the full range of functions on the website.
Finally, the defendant's motion to dismiss the claim for civil penalties, fines, and punitive damages under the NYCHRL was premature, as damages are not an independent cause of action but rather a prayer for relief.

Overall, this case highlights the importance of ensuring that websites are accessible to all individuals, even when the business does not have a brick and mortar location, including those with visually impaired disabilities.

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ADA Discrimination at the Gym or Health Club

As someone with a disability, maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle can be challenging, but it's crucial for overall health and wellbeing. Access to fitness facilities like gyms can play a significant role in promoting physical health, but unfortunately, these spaces often fall short in terms of accessibility. This is why it's important for individuals with disabilities to advocate for their rights to accessible gyms and fitness facilities.

Access to equipment and facilities is essential for people with disabilities to be able to engage in physical activity. Many individuals with disabilities require specialized equipment or modifications to be able to use exercise equipment effectively. However, without accessibility accommodations, people with disabilities may not be able to access the benefits of exercise. This can have a significant impact on physical health, including an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.

In addition to the physical benefits, accessible gyms and fitness facilities can also promote inclusion and a sense of community. People with disabilities should have the same opportunities as anyone else to participate in fitness activities and exercise alongside others. However, inaccessible facilities can create barriers to full participation, leading to social isolation and a lack of opportunities for socialization.

Moreover, lack of accessibility can also pose serious safety risks to individuals with disabilities. Uneven surfaces, lack of handrails, and inaccessible emergency exits can all pose risks to those with mobility impairments. These safety issues can be compounded if staff members are not trained to assist individuals with disabilities in an emergency.

If you encounter accessibility barriers in a gym or fitness facility, it's important to advocate for your rights. Here are some tips for doing so:

  1. Educate yourself on the requirements for accessibility in public accommodations, including gyms and fitness facilities.
  2. Speak with the gym management and politely inform them of any accessibility barriers you encounter. Explain how these barriers impact your ability to access the gym and fitness equipment.
  3. Document any accessibility issues you encounter. Take pictures or videos of the issue, note the time and date, and record any conversations you have with the gym management.

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What are Public Accommodations under the ADA?

As a person with a disability, access to public accommodations such as stores, restaurants, and other businesses is essential to living a full and independent life. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities to access these public accommodations. However, many businesses still fall short when it comes to providing adequate accessibility, which can limit your ability to participate in everyday activities. Here are some important reasons why accessibility in stores is so important, and why you should fight for your rights if someone infringes on them.

  1. Access to goods and services: Everyone has the right to access the goods and services that businesses offer. Without accessibility features such as ramps, wide aisles, and accessible restrooms, people with disabilities may not be able to shop, eat, or use the restroom at these establishments.
  2. Safety: Lack of accessibility can also be a safety issue for people with disabilities. Uneven surfaces, narrow doorways, and inaccessible emergency exits can pose serious risks to those with mobility impairments, hearing or visual impairments.
  3. Dignity and Independence: The right to participate in society with dignity and independence is a fundamental right. Inaccessible stores can limit the ability of people with disabilities to engage in everyday activities on their own terms.

If you encounter accessibility barriers in a store or other public accommodation, there are steps you can take to advocate for your rights. Here are some tips:

  1. Educate yourself on your rights under the ADA. Familiarize yourself with the requirements for accessibility in public accommodations, and know what businesses are required to provide.
  2. Be prepared to advocate for yourself. If you encounter a barrier to access, politely inform the business owner or manager of the issue, and explain how it is impacting your ability to access the goods or services offered.
  3. Document any accessibility issues you encounter. Take pictures or videos of the issue, note the time and date, and record any conversations you have with the business owner or manager.

In conclusion, accessibility in retail stores and other public accommodations is a fundamental right for people with disabilities. If you encounter accessibility barriers, remember that you have the right to advocate for yourself and that your efforts can make a difference. By working together, we can create a more accessible and inclusive society for everyone.

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What are Service Animals?

Service animals play an essential role in the lives of people with disabilities, providing assistance, comfort, and companionship. These highly trained animals are more than just pets; they are working animals that help people with disabilities live more independent and fulfilling lives.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals with disabilities are entitled to bring their service animals into most public places, including restaurants, stores, hotels, and other businesses. The ADA defines a service animal as a dog (or in some cases, a miniature horse) that is trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability.

Service animals can perform a wide range of tasks, including guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, retrieving dropped items, providing stability for people with mobility impairments, and even alerting people with seizure disorders to an impending seizure.

Despite the protections afforded to service animals under the ADA, people with disabilities often face discrimination and harassment when trying to access public accommodations with their service animals. Some businesses may refuse to allow a service animal on their premises or may require additional documentation or fees, which is illegal under the ADA.

If you are a person with a disability who uses a service animal, it is important to know your rights and to advocate for yourself if you encounter discrimination. Here are some steps you can take:

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Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Visually-Impaired Plaintiff's ADA Case Against Outdoor Gear Exchange Inc.

The case of Weekes v. Outdoor Gear Exch., Inc. is about a visually-impaired person who sued an online store for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiff argued that the website was not accessible to his screen-reader software and he was unable to purchase items as a result.

The defendant tried to get the case dismissed, but the court denied their motion. The court found that the plaintiff had standing to sue under the ADA because he had suffered past injury and intended to return to the website once the accessibility issues were fixed. The court also noted that the presence of alternative aids, such as customer support reps, did not affect the plaintiff's standing.

The court further held that the defendant had not indicated any intention to accommodate the plaintiff and that the plaintiff had adequately alleged instances of discrimination. The court also rejected the defendant's argument that the plaintiff should have requested an accommodation, as the plaintiff had already put the defendant on notice of his accessibility needs by filing an amended complaint.

Overall, the court ruled that the plaintiff had a valid claim under the ADA and that the case should proceed. This decision is in line with other cases where visually-impaired individuals have sued websites for violating the ADA by failing to provide adequate accessibility.

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ADA and Service Dogs

Service Dog and the ADA ADA and Service Dogs - Know your rights

             When you enter a business or place of public accommodation with your service dog, you should know your rights when accessing a business. If you or a loved one are ever denied access to a business with your service dog, it is important to know that you can and should assert your legal right to access. Under the American with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”), businesses must allow you and your service dog the same access that is open to the public without service animals.

            If you require a trained service dog to perform certain tasks for you, a business must allow your service animal to accompany you anywhere other members of the public are permitted; even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on site. Along with the right to be accompanied, a business cannot isolate you from other patrons, treat you less favorably, or charge additional fees. Even where a business charges fees for pets, the business must waive that fee for your service animal. 

What is a Service Animal?

            The ADA defines service animals as: “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” Tasks performed by service animals may include, but are certainly not limited to: pulling wheelchairs; guiding visually impaired individuals; alerting the hearing impaired; calming individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during anxiety attacks; and reminding a person to take their prescribed medication. Unfortunately, the American with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) does not provide the same rights for emotional support animals (including therapy dogs or comfort animals) and therefore, businesses may refuse such animals and their owners access to the establishment.

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Spas, Pools, and Places of Recreation

Spas, Pools, and Places of Recreation Spas, pools, and even hot tubs are leisurely activities for which the ADA sets accessibility regulations.

Spas, Pools, and Places of Recreation

            The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) regulates accessibility requirements for public accommodations under Title III. Spas, pools, and even hot tubs are leisurely activities for which the ADA sets accessibility regulations. As an individual with a disability, you have the same right to enjoy these activities just as someone without a disability.

            Swimming pools require accessible means of access; this can be achieved either by a pool lift, or a sloped entry (ramp). Wave pools, leisure “lazy” rivers, and sand bottom pools are also required to have at

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Can Public Accommodations Set Criteria That Screen Out Individuals with Disabilities?

Can Public Accommodations Set Criteria That Screen Out Individuals with Disabilities? Can Public Accommodations Set Criteria That Screen Out Individuals with Disabilities?

Can Public Accommodations Set Criteria That Screen Out Individuals with Disabilities?

            Generally, no, public accommodations may not set eligibility criteria that screens out, or tends to screen out individuals with disabilities. For example, a fitness club cannot require that its members be able to run a mile in order to join; this would unfairly screen out individuals who use wheelchairs or may not be able to run due to a disability. Similarly, a library may not require that members be able to read printed books in order to join; as this unfairly screens out individuals with visual impairments.

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ADA: Public Ground Transportation Providers

ADA: Public Ground Transportation Providers ADA: Public Ground Transportation Providers

ADA: Public Ground Transportation Providers

            The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) applies to both public and private ground transportation providers. The U.S. Department of Transportation regulates the ADA rules that apply to transportation.

            The ADA has architectural requirements for fixed-route transportation services. A fixed route transportation system is one that operates along a prescribed route according to a fixed schedule. Typically, these are public transportation systems such as city and commuter bus systems, subways, light rail systems, and intercity rail transportation. These transportation services must provide accessible services including: stop announcements for riders with visual impairments; destination information on the front and side of transportation vehicles; appropriate boarding devices such as lifts and ramps; proper lighting and slip-resistant surfaces; fareboxes must be located so that they do not obstruct passenger flow while boarding the bus; and for individuals who use wheelchairs, there must be enough turning room and space for wheelchairs to maneuver, handrails must be accessible, and stop buttons and pull cords must be within reach of wheelchair securement locations.

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What Are My Rights in College if I have a disability?

What Are My Rights in College if I have a disability? What Are My Rights in College if I have a disability?

What Are My Rights in College if I have a disability?

            The Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) provides protection for individuals with disabilities. Title II of the ADA makes sure that individuals with disabilities cannot be subject to discrimination by public universities or colleges, while Title III applies to private universities and colleges. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act also includes protections for students with disabilities. Under this law, any school that receives federal funding may not discriminate on the basis of disability.

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What are some “readily achievable” accommodations Places of Public Accommodations should be making?

What are some “readily achievable” accommodations Places of Public Accommodations should be making? What are some “readily achievable” accommodations Places of Public Accommodations should be making?

What are some “readily achievable” accommodations Places of Public Accommodations should be making?

            Some examples of “ready achievable” remediations include, without limitation, (i) the providing ADA compliant ramps for situations where there are steps at entrances into areas of public accommodation, (ii) modifying the layout or height of racks and shelves for mobility purposes, (iii) lowering tables and checkout counters, and (iv) installing grab bars where one might regularly need reinforcement of the wall, such as restrooms. An accommodation that might not be “readily achievable” includes additions such as an elevator, which may incur a significant financial burden on a business.

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What are “reasonable accommodations" under Title III of the ADA

ADA Reasonable Accommodations ADA Reasonable Accommodations

What are “reasonable accommodations" under Title III of the ADA

            Reasonable accommodations under Title III of the ADA are modifications/remediations made in places of public accommodations to accommodate or make facilities equally accessible for individuals with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations include the removal of architectural barriers for those with mobility needs, providing for effective communication methods for people with visual, auditory, or vocal needs, and having trained staff to assist individuals with disabilities.

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Title III: Public Accommodations Who is and who isn’t regulated by Title III?

ADA Accessibility ADA Accessibility Restaurant

Title III: Public Accommodations Under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”), privately owned facilities and business are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities. The ADA requires business to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure that facilities are accessible to people with disabilities. 

Who is and who isn’t regulated by Title III?

            Title III under the ADA extends to private entities; this includes businesses and facilities that are open to the public. Title III also covers private transportation companies.  State and local government entities are public entities covered by Title II of the ADA, and not Title III.  Religious entities are exempt from the requirements of Title III of the ADA. However, if it has enough employees to meet the requirements under Title I (employers), the religious entity would be subject to certain employment obligations under Title I under the ADA.  The exemption on religious entities covers all activities of a religious entity, whether religious or not. For example, a religious organization may operate a day care and private elementary school for members and nonmembers alike; Even though these facilities would regularly be considered places of public accommodation, they are still exempt from Title III.

          

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Am I being discriminated against based on my disability?

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Am I being discriminated against based on my disability?

            If your dining/shopping/lodging/entertainment experience has ever been anything less than fair and equal, and you believe it is based at least in part on your disability, you are likely a victim of disability discrimination. Architectural barriers such as steps at entrances, bathrooms that are too small for wheelchair to maneuver properly, and narrow pathway corridors for which wheelchairs are unable to safely maneuver are just a few examples of disability discrimination.

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