Calvert, Hunter reintroduce ACCESS Act legislation

California Reps. Ken Calvert (R) and Duncan Hunter (R) reintroduced the ACCESS Act legislation in the House of Representatives on Friday.

Also known as the ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services Act, the legislation seeks to  assist small business owners with compliance of the Americans with Disabilities Act by reducing the financial burdens for non-compliance fines and allowing a longer period of time for business owners to correct infractions.

“The purpose of the Americans with Disabilities is not to give abusive trial lawyers access to the hard earned money earned by small businesses,” Calvert said. “The ACCESS Act will ensure that disabled individuals continue to have access throughout our communities while protecting small businesses from abusive lawsuits. The important thing is to find ways to improve access, not to fleece small business owners and jeopardize jobs.”

Under the ACCESS Act, a person with a concern regarding a violation of the ADA would issue the owner or operator a written complaint and notice of the violation. The complaint must contain language specific enough to allow the owner or operator to identify the cause of the access problem. The owner would then have 60 days to provide the aggrieved person with a description outlining planned improvements to remove the barrier.

Following receipt of the description, the infraction must be corrected within 120 days. Only after this process has failed can a lawsuit move forward.

“Too many small business owners fall victim to predatory lawsuits that serve the interests of trial lawyers and do little to help the individuals that the ADA was designed to protect,” Hunter said. “And in California, the problem is especially pervasive. By giving business owners a chance to address alleged ADA violations before a lawsuit is filed, we restore the focus on ensuring individuals with disabilities have the accommodations that they deserve.”