The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in the USA in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.
Fox5 Atlanta News has run a piece looking at how people taking advantage of the act have impacted local businesses, including comic store Rock Shop Music and Comics, informed in a legal letter from the Attorneys for Disabled Americans Group out of Alabama representing a complainant that they were violating the act.
A list of complaints were sent over, with emphasis on the store’s counter. The owner of the store located inside the Mall of Georgia, Brad Owens told Fox, “We have disabled customers that come in all the time. My brother was in a wheelchair all of his life so I know what it is to deal with.” But he agreed to make changes in his store, lowered the counter, cleared the shelf space and sent an email with pictures showing the changes to the lawyer, who didn’t agree and suggested a settlement offer of $5500. Talking to the news show, Owens compared this to mob exhortation and that it would have to come out of his son’s college fund. Somilar language was recently used by Forbes who ran a story earlier alleging that the law is being taken advantage of by personal injury lawyers.
The news show was able to ascertain the lawyer who served the store works for Attorneys for Disabled Americans, and was the mother of the complainant and that her firm has launched 84 similar lawsuits against businesses.
Owens told Bleeding Cool:
“Earlier this year someone went store by store in the mall, taking pics from the doorway and then threatened to file ADA lawsuits. The alleged infractions against us were VERY minor (our checkout counter 1 inch higher than ADA max, and we didn’t have 36 inches of clear space on the counter) and actually NOT true (we have clipboards/tablets that are allowed, and the other end of our counter that extends down the wall was kept clear.) They wanted a $5500.00 settlement, which we refused. This is something that can happen to ANY comic shop, so it should be on people’s radar.”