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Supreme Court Weighs ADA Lawsuits on Website Accessibility

5 October, 2023


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Justices of the United States Supreme Court have shown concerns about certain lawsuits. These lawsuits mainly target hotels and similar facilities. The lawsuits accuse them of not giving enough information to disabled individuals on accessibility features. The hotels are being accused of not disclosing information to people with disabilities, as registered in their reservation systems.

However, the judges have not arrived at a final decision just yet.

The lawsuit now consists of an appeal filed by the Acheson group of hotels. This appeal comes regarding a ruling from the lower court. It was about Deborah Laufer, a visually impaired individual in a wheelchair. She resides in Florida and decided to pursue a lawsuit against a company in Maine.

Initially, she had no plans to lodge in the hotels there. Laufer, however, has described herself to be a “tester” of hotel compliances. She checks if the hotels follow the rules and regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

The ADA is a civil rights law that protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination. Since the Act is federal in nature, it applies to all public accommodations, including hotels.

As of now, the major question that lies before the Supreme Court is whether Laufer actually has the right to sue. Only a person who can show concrete harm to self and property has the right to sue for a court-ordered remedy.  

Justice Elena Kagan is of the opinion that the discrimination is questionable. The inaccuracies that Laufer faced on the hotel’s website are questionable because she did not go through the reservation service to book a room. On the other hand, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said that Laufer did not personally face any discrimination.

For now, even the Biden administration stands with the hotel, stating that Laufer did not possess the right to sue at all. Business organizations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hold that ADA “testers” like Laufer are only causing more lawsuits against small businesses every day.

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Debkanya is a lawyer turned writer. With an experience of 3 years, she is your go-to source for all things law. She has a soft corner for the US and international section. When the weekend arrives, you'll find her reading up on politics, Austen, or travel blogs over a cup of coffee.

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