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New York Employment Law Blog

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Blind Persons Afforded Equal Protection for Online Ordering

On July 21, 2017, the Southern District Court in New York held that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA") covers claims by disabled individuals who seek to use a company's resources online.  The case is Markett v. Five Guys Enters. LLC.  In this case, the plaintiff, who is blind, sought to order food from the defendant-restaurant but was unable to do so on its website.  She then sued the defendant alleging violations of the ADA for not being granted full and equal access to enjoy the defendant's goods, benefits, and services.

The main argument advanced by the defendant was that the complaint should be dismissed because Title III only "prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation, only governs access to the goods and services available at physical facilities."  Since the plaintiff was not physically at the restaurant, the defendant argued she had no claim.  Further, the defendant argued that the website was not in violation of any established regulations under the ADA and that it was undergoing a website renovation that would eventually allow for visually-impaired individuals to access the site.  

The court rejected the defendant's arguments and found that the plaintiff stated a claim for a violation of the ADA.  The court held that Title III is not limited to only physical public accommodations and that websites fall within the ADA's breadth.  In so holding, the court noted that there were steps that the defendant could take to ensure equal access to the visually impaired, such as using Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.  The court also rejected the argument that there was no violation because the defendant was redoing its website as that was not fixed by the time the decision was rendered.  

This case demonstrates that the ADA is not limited to companies being only required to make physical public accommodations accessible, but also extensions of the companies, such as its websites, which must also provide equal access.

To learn more about the ADA and other discrimination statutes, please contact the Law Offices of Yale Pollack, P.C. at 516-634-6340.


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