House of Representatives Bill
February 15, 2018
On February 15, 2018, the United States House of Representatives passed bill H.R. 620, popularly known as the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) Education and Reform Act of 2017, by a vote of 225 – 192. The bill seeks to amend the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act by adding additional procedures that must be met before a business or company can be sued in court for non-compliance with the ADA. That law sought to require by law that public accommodations provide “equal access” and that employers provide “reasonable accommodations” to those people with physical or mental medical conditions. H.R. 620 will now be sent on to the Senate for a vote. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE
The bill passed by the House has been condemned by numerous groups and has critics from both sides of the aisle. Faiz Shakir, National Political Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), called the passage of the bill “damaging, unnecessary and ill-conceived” and stated that “the disability community should not have to fight through bureaucratic red tape to enjoy basic liberties that others freely enjoy.”
The main problem of the bill is that it does not encourage businesses to comply with the ADA. It instead establishes a “wait and see” approach for businesses. Instead of proactively making architectural changes to provide “equal access” businesses would instead have no obligation to make the changes unless they are served with written notice to make a change from a potential plaintiff. They are then given as long as one hundred twenty (120) days to show they have made “substantial progress” in making a change. This is different from actually making a change or removing an existing barrier. Because of this new standard, businesses can merely delay full implementation of changes and proceed on their own timeline. What this proposed bill does is give businesses a way to procrastinate compliance with the ADA on a timeline of their own choosing. It becomes very easy to see how businesses could manipulate this law to prevent full compliance with the ADA over time. Removing the ability of people to sue businesses for “equal access” is simply giving these places a way to not comply with the ADA and should be voted down in the Senate when it comes up for a vote. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE
- Americans With Disabilities National Network – webpage on information, training and guidance on the ADA.
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – information sheet on the myths and truths of bill H.R. 620.
- American Association of People With Disabilities – non – profit group seeking to increase the political and economic power of people with disabilities.
This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.