Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation to improve the Americans with Disabilities Act. H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, preserves the original intent of the ADA, protects businesses from expensive litigation, and provides education, all while providing a strong incentive for businesses to comply with ADA regulations.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued the following statement:

“American business owners should have the resources and education to accommodate all their customers without fear of expensive lawsuits. The ADA Education and Reform Act will improve access for those whom the ADA was designed to help instead of increasing fees for opportunistic attorneys. These reforms will help the law work better for both Americans with disabilities and American business owners. I am pleased with the work that the House Judiciary Committee has done on this important issue, and I applaud my colleague Representative Ted Poe for his leadership.”

Representative Ted Poe (R-Tx.), chief sponsor of the legislation, stated:

“The ADA is a critical law that is designed to make American businesses and facilities more accessible to the disabled. However, the integrity of this important law is being threatened by those who wish to make a quick buck off the backs of others. The vast majority of small businesses in America strive to serve their customers to the best of their ability – relying on the ADA as another tool to help ensure that costumers with disabilities can enjoy the services that they provide. Unfortunately, unscrupulous attorneys prey on small business owners and file unnecessary lawsuits that abuse the spirit and purpose of the ADA. H.R. 620 offers a common sense fix to the problem of drive-by lawsuits by giving businesses a timeframe in which to fix the alleged infraction. If the business doesn’t fix the issue, a plaintiff can move forward with their lawsuit. This legislation restores the purpose of the ADA: to provide access and accommodation to disabled Americans, not to fatten the wallets of attorneys.”

Background:
While the ADA is an important piece of legislation that protects those with disabilities, some have taken advantage of the system to file exorbitant lawsuits for monetary gain. Some plaintiffs’ attorneys have even targeted multiple businesses they have never frequented for minor compliance issues and then demanded large fees when compliance could have been achieved faster and cheaper if only fair notice and an opportunity to cure had been given.

The bill alters the public accommodation provisions in Title III of the ADA to remedy this problem. Under this legislation, those who seek action against businesses for ADA compliance issues must first give a written notice. Businesses then have 60 days to respond in writing and 120 days to make necessary changes before being subject to civil action.

H.R. 620 also instructs the Department of Justice to create an education program for state and local governments and property owners regarding ADA compliance.

H.R. 620 is identical to ADA reform legislation that passed the House Judiciary Committee in 2016.