Several bills have been introduced in Congress that would impose significant requirements on individuals alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) before they would be allowed to commence civil actions. One of these bills, sponsored by Representative Ted Poe (R-TX), is the ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 3765).
The ADA was passed more than 25 years ago and amended in 2008. The ADA protects the rights of all individuals with disabilities including learning disabilities. Mr. Poe’s bill claims to fix the problem of a business paying damages (money) to individuals when it fails to provide access for the disabled. This is a misstatement of the ADA – the ADA does not allow money damages.
LDA is concerned this bill will lessen the rights of those with disabilities and open the door for later bills that may weaken the ADA and the protections it provides to all individuals with disabilities, including learning disabilities.
H.R. 3765 passed the House Judiciary Committee on July 7, 2016, on a 15-6 vote. We think it’s possible this bill may come to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote in early September!
TAKE ACTION NOW
Please contact your House of Representative members today! Tell them to oppose H.R. 3765 ADA Education and Reform Act!
1. Call your House member’s office directly or call through the U.S. House of Representatives switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask for your Representative’s office. To find out who your Representative is, go to www.house.gov, and put in your zip code.
2. Tell the person who answers: “I am (your name), and I live in (town or city). I am a constituent of Representative ____________. I am calling to ask Representative ________ to oppose H.R. 3765, the ADA Education and Reform Act. Thank you.”
If you get a chance to elaborate or talk directly to a staff person who deals with the ADA, here are some points to make about the bill:
This bill is exceptionally harmful because…
- It requires a person with a disability to give a business owner who has barriers to access a written notice and 60 days to acknowledge there is a problem – and then another 120 days to begin to fix it. No other group is forced to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights.
- It calls for education by the Department of Justice. But there are already extensive efforts by that Department and the ADA Centers to educate business owners about their ADA obligations. Businesses that violate the ADA should be held accountable.
- It makes accessibility standards, like those under the ADA, seem like minor details, when, in fact, these standards are essential to ensure real accessibility.
- It would eliminate the responsibility of businesses to address their obligations. Concerns about money damage awards are behind this bill. But that has nothing to do with the ADA, because the ADA does not allow money damages. Money damages are only available under a handful of state laws. This bill will do nothing to change damage awards under state laws.”
ALTERNATIVE WAYS TO TAKE ACTION
Send an email to your House member. You can also find that information at www.house.gov. Click on the Representatives tab and find your Rep. OR Just Google your member, go to his/her website, and you will see a contact link. You can use the same information above in your email.
Send a Message Through Social Media: Tweet or send a message to your representative’s Facebook page through their websites.