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Striking a Balance: CJAC’s Pursuit of Fair Laws for Business and Disability Access

The Valley Economic Alliance - February 20, 2024

The Valley Economic Alliance published version here
By Jaime Huff

State and federal disability laws play a crucial role in ensuring equal access to public spaces for individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, small and minority-owned businesses in California have long been burdened with frivolous lawsuits that exploit these laws. The issue has intensified in recent years, with nearly 6,000 lawsuits filed in California federal courts in 2021 alone.

Established in 1990 to prevent discrimination against individuals with physical or mental disabilities, the ADA has, unfortunately, been misused by some plaintiffs’ lawyers for financial gain, putting pressure on businesses through the threat of lawsuits. These violations can include a disabled parking sign fading to the wrong shade of blue or a door sign hanging slightly too high or low. As more businesses develop an online presence or participate in e-commerce, lawyers have found a new frontier for ADA suits via the internet.

The cost of making a website compliant can range anywhere from $7,000 to $50,000 depending on the complexity of the site. This figure does not include the costs of continually updating the website for compliance. With that in mind, there are still instances in which a compliance audit doesn’t completely address all the complicated nuances of ADA as businesses who attempt to fully comply may still be exposed to potential liability.

The Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) advocates for several solutions that would increase accessibility and fairness within the business community. Still active in the State Legislature, Senator Roger Niello’s Senate Bill (SB) 585 proposes a common-sense solution to potentially halt some of these lawsuit abuses. Specifically, this legislation provides that before suing a small business for a construction-related accessibility claim, the plaintiff must first provide a letter listing the alleged violations and providing 120 days to fix them.

If your business has experienced unfair practices or legal challenges, we want to connect with you and work toward a solution to benefit all stakeholders in disability access, including the business community. At CJAC, we are committed to addressing legislation and laws that impose undue legal burdens on California businesses, employees, and communities. We invite you to reach out to share your story and learn how you can join us in our advocacy efforts.

To connect with us today, contact Taylor Gonsalves at or (916) 708-3351.

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