Recently the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing on H.R. 3765 – the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2015. Advocates in the Disability Rights Movement have opposed this legislation due to concerns that it will chip away at the hard-fought victory of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Protect the Americans with Disabilities Act!
The ADA was enacted almost 26 years ago as a compromise between the disability and business communities. In the agreement, the disability community gave up the ability to receive damages beyond attorney’s fees from businesses that fail to comply with the federal ADA. They did this with the understanding that state and local governments and property owners of public spaces would comply with the regulations. Similarly, the UCC General Synod has urged all settings of the Church to comply with ADA regulations, although churches are exempt from the law. Unfortunately, almost 26 years after enactment, there are still organizations, businesses, and companies who have yet to comply with this important civil rights law for persons with disabilities.
The ADA Education and Reform Act would create additional barriers to filing a complaint under the ADA, making the law even harder to enforce. It would impose criminal fines on individuals filing a pre-suit notification that does not meet specific requirements. In no other civil rights legislation is it a crime to file a complaint. Supporters of this bill, like Congressman Ted Poe (TX), claim that they are working to stop abuses by “cash-hungry attorneys and plaintiffs.” In reality, the problem Congress is trying to fix will not be solved at the federal level, because the ADA does not authorize damages. Monetary damages for accessibility violations are based on state laws in only a handful of states.
UCC advocates pushed for passage of the original ADA 26 years ago. Let's work together to keep it strong!
Act now! Tell your Representative to protect the ADA!