Earlier this year, we reported on a spike in the number of ADA public accommodation lawsuits being filed against businesses in Illinois. (FR Alert: Wave of ADA Public Accommodation Lawsuits Continues to Spread, Hits Illinois.) Barely a week into the new year, it is clear that this trend is not going away in 2016. On January 5 and 6, a single “tester” plaintiff filed at least eleven new lawsuits against retailers and restaurants in the Chicago metro area. It is a safe bet that there will be more to follow from this plaintiff and others.
As explained in our earlier alert, any entity that operates a restaurant, hotel, retail store, or other place of public accommodation needs to understand and ensure that they comply with all applicable ADA Accessibility Guidelines. This is particularly important for any facilities constructed for first occupancy after or substantially renovated since January 26, 1993. If you are undertaking any new construction or renovations, be sure to consider ADA compliance in any plans for the space. And if you are not certain that existing facilities are ADA compliant, consider conducting an ADA accessibility study or audit with guidance from legal counsel in order to identify potential issues before they become part of a federal lawsuit.