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California Legal Services Offices Oppose the Proposed H.R. 620 Roll-Back of Disability Rights Protections

Friday, May 26, 2017

A dozen California legal services offices from throughout the state have joined a coalition of 110 disability, senior and civic organizations in opposing H.R. 620, the inaptly named "ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017." This proposed federal legislation is the latest attempt to weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It would add an ADA Title III "notice" requirement before people with disabilities can file lawsuits against "public accommodations" (i.e., private businesses) for access violations.

The bill purports to ensure that small businesses are not harassed with "frivolous" complaints, and that they are given fair warning to correct their behavior. However, businesses have now had 27 years to comply with the ADA, as well as decades of access to resources to help them understand their obligations. There are already sufficient mechanisms in place to prevent abusive litigation, and since ADA Title III offers only injunctive relief, it is not at really at risk of exploitation by "unscrupulous" litigants.

What H.R. 620 really does is give businesses an incentive to further delay compliance until they receive a "notice" of problems. It also singles out disability for different treatment from other civil rights characteristics, which is a symbolic as well as practical problem. When Congress passed ADA Title III in 1990, it expresses modeled it on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and incorporated the CRA remedies. It will be a profound step backwards If disability is now separated out for different and more restrictive remedies.

The opposition was expressed in two May 25, 2017 letters. One letter was delivered to the California House of Representative members formally co-sponsoring the bill. The second letter was delivered to the entire California House delegation.

Participating California legal services offices included the following:

(1) Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles
(2) Bet Tzedek Legal Services
(3) California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform
(4) Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
(5) Disability Rights California
(6) Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
(7) Justice in Aging
(8) Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
(9) Legal Aid at Work
(10) San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program
(11) The Impact Fund
(12) Worksafe

The letter are posted on the DREDF website at

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