As lawyers for small businesses in San Francisco and the surrounding region, the Brod Law Firm knows that the vast majority of local business operators follow the law. We also know that most business owners want their organization to be open and accessible to all customers, including those with disabilities. A recent series of articles in the San Francisco Chronicle highlights the fact that even these businesses can become the target of “opportunistic” suits under the Americans with Disability Act (“the ADA”) and related state and local policies.
We can help your San Francisco business with ADA claims. Having spent countless hours in courtrooms, we know that preventing lawsuits is always preferable to trial. As is highlighted in the recent Chronicle series, there are many resources available to California businesses to help them comply with all legal obligations. The City of San Francisco has a specialized Office of Small Business that provides a lot of information to help business owners and management personnel comply with the law. With respect to the ADA, businesses must ensure their facility is accessible to all customers by removing any existing architectural barriers and by following accessibility codes for any construction. If your business is undertaking construction efforts, consulting a Certified Access Specialist is recommended. These experts can provide feedback during the process. Furthermore, an inspection report is very useful if a lawsuit arises, creating a 90-day stay on a lawsuit and providing for an Early Evaluation Conference that can help eliminate meritless claims without the need for a full trial. Tax incentives exist to help businesses with the cost of ADA compliance.
Unfortunately, even businesses that have been proactive in complying with the ADA will sometimes face legal complaints. If you receive a verbal or written complaint alleging that your business has violated the ADA, it is vital that you seek the assistance of a Northern California small business attorney immediately. Early representation can help you avoid missing any deadlines and can help you achieve a timely, positive resolution. As counsel to area businesses, our team can evaluate the merits of an ADA claim and determine if changes to your place of business are warranted under the law. We can evaluate the merits of the claim, retain useful experts, and provide effective pre-trial guidance. Our team will also examine the history of both the claimant and their representatives to determine if they have a history of making unsupported claims since, sadly, there are repeat players who have a record of abusing the ADA for profit. At the Brod Law Firm, we will make every effort to resolve the claims early and cost-effectively. We are also always prepared to represent our business clients at trial should the need arise.
The ADA is one of the many laws intended to protect our citizens. It is truly unfortunate when people bring meritless suits that violate the spirit of the law. Legitimate claims do exist and meritless suits do a disservice to those individuals whose rights are truly being violated. The suits also take a financial toll on good businesses, a toll that can also be emotional and damage the reputation of a law-abiding company. If you own or manage a business facing a San Francisco ADA claim or other legal dispute, please contact the team at the Brod Law Firm for a free consultation. We will work with you to help achieve a positive result and we are committed to helping keep the costs of defending your company against a meritless claim reasonable and affordable.
Note: While this post focuses the customer access portions of the ADA, businesses do have specific legal duties to employees with disabilities. Our team is also skilled at helping businesses facing these and other employment law disputes. Please contact us if we can assist your business in such matters.