How to Handle an ADA Compliance Violation

As a HR professional or manager, it is critical to know the ramifications of an ADA compliance violation. This is a key learning in steps to handle an ADA violation. Unbelievably, ADA compliance violations happen more often than not in the workplace. You would think that recognizing ADA compliance is part of Business 101, but mistakes are still made.
The first step is to fully understand the ADA, and exactly what constitutes a violation. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted, requiring businesses and government entities to create accommodations for employees who are considered disabled. These places include businesses and apartment buildings, for profit living spaces.
The most common violation of ADA accommodations in a business involves a failure in allowing an environment that should provide access for persons with disabilities. In 2010, the Department of Justice published the Standards for Accessible Design, which states essentially everything within a business be accessible to employees with disclosed disabilities.
You must recognize the potential for ADA violations before an error is made with compliance, these include:

  • Entrances that inaccessible to building or exit from the building
    • No ADA signage, or the signage that exists is not correct
    • Parking access is limited or non-existent
    • Restroom facilities cannot be accessed
    • Restroom facilities are not equipped to serve those with disabilities
    • Staff is uneducated toward the ADA policies

These damages can be quite steep ranging anywhere from $55,000 to $75,000. If a subsequent violation is found, the fine could be $150,000.
How you can avoid this from happening:

  • Find out what constitutes an ADA violation- knowledge is power
    • Act fast, rather than wait. This is not a sit and wait thing- you cannot be lackadaisical on fixing the potential violations. That is unless you are willing to pay a large fine.
    • Contact an attorney. Many attorneys know or have a connection with people who can inspect your area for any potential violations.

What if the worst happens? You have been sued for an ADA violation, demanding punitive damages.

  1. Be prepared to pay the fine. Most courts will enforce the penalty, whether the violation was intentional or not.
    2. Protect yourself with an attorney well versed in ADA law. There may some respite involved in terms of negotiation.
    3. Investigate the claim. You have rights, just like the victim. A violation that resulted in some kind of injury (which could make the penalties much worse) may not be true. An attorney will help you with this process.
    4. Remain diligent in actions. Prove to the court, the advocacy group, even the victim that you are willing to do what it takes to make your business ADA compliant.