Blame predatory attorneys, not the Americans with Disabilities Act
by Chris Jones/My Word
For hundreds of years people with disabilities faced these kinds of discriminatory practices. The ADA ensured that people could get jobs, ride buses, go to school, shop in the grocery store, eat in nice restaurants, go to the movies — in other words, do all the things that everyone else takes for granted as a legitimate right.
Porter Street Barbeque in Arcata was closed in response to a lawsuit claiming accessibility violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.In our community some people become outraged that the “government” (ADA) interferes with the rights of business owners while others hold that business owners are discriminating against people with disabilities by not complying with a law established over 25 years ago.
I believe the answer is not so simple. First: People with disabilities should never be excluded from access to business and services. Second: Businesses should be not forced to close because of frivolous lawsuits instigated in the name of accessibility.
This is not a disability issue, it is an attorney issue. Attorneys who prey on small businesses are predators. They have no desire to fix the problems. It seems that they are just looking for a quick buck resulting in small businesses such as Porter Street and Arctic Circle, already struggling, being forced to close.
There are valid violations of the ADA. A business owner simply cannot nor should not fail to comply with a law that has been on the books for 25 years. One frequently stated opinion is that one may have to spend thousands of dollars to make their place accessible therefore they do nothing. Some organizations really do merit lawsuits for ADA violations. They are ignoring the law by failing to make their places of business accessible. Simply disagreeing with a law does not give one the right to break it.
A person with a disability cannot do business at various stores when they are inaccessible either because there is no ramp, stairways are too steep or doorways are too narrow. Aisles in some stores are too narrow to pass through, counters are so high that one cannot reach, or the accessible restroom stall has a lock on it that is so high up that one cannot reach it in order to lock the door once in the stall.
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