KOB 4 exposes numerous lawsuits filed by a single lawyer and client against 99 Albuquerque businesses alleging noncompliance with the ADA's accessibility requirements. Shannon and Laura appeared as panelists on the show, discussing the ADA and a lawyer's professional responsibilities.
Our experience is that many small businesses are technically noncompliant with any of the hundreds of potential violations that could lead to a lawsuit. And most owners and renters seem to have no idea that they may be exposed to liability. The ADA applies broadly to "public accommodations," meaning that it applies to any private business that provides goods or services to the public. Just because a business is located in an older, existing facility, does not exempt it from the ADA, and the Act is not coextensive with "grandfather provisions" that are used by code enforcement officials. That is, even older facilities have an ongoing obligation to remove physical barriers to the extent readily achievable. This may include widening parking spaces, constructing ramps, updating door knobs, bathroom access, heights of fixtures, etc.
Tax credits and deductions may be available to offset the cost of updating for ADA compliance.
If you want to find out whether your business meets ADA standards, a good place to start is to contact the Department of Justice's toll-free ADA Information Line by calling 1-800-514-0301 (TDD: 800-514-0383). Our firm is also willing to advise New Mexico businesses on the issue. Visit our contact page, or call 505-244-1400.