On Thursday, February 15, the House of Representatives voted to pass HR 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act, by a vote of 225-192. This bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Rep. Poe (R-TX), adds a "notice-and-cure" provision to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), giving businesses an opportunity to fix alleged violations before a suit can be filed against them. It also creates an education program between the Department of Justice, states/local governments, and businesses to raise awareness of ADA compliance issues, and a model mediation program for resolving ADA complaints.
In recent years, the practice of "drive-by-ADA suits," in which attorneys hit many businesses with demand letters for small, easily curable infractions of the ADA (sometimes multiple times), has risen. This disproportionately impacts small businesses and commercial properties, and they often end up spending time and resources settling the issue instead of on actually fixing the violation. The attorneys behind these suits are simply trying to collect the legal fees associated with them; under the ADA, plaintiffs themselves do not collect any damages. H.R. 620 restores integrity to the ADA by incentivizing businesses to quickly resolve ADA violations, ultimately furthering the purpose of the ADA: to ensure access for all individuals to public spaces.
NAR advocated strongly in support of HR 620, sending a letter of support to the full House of Representatives, and issuing a commercial-targeted call-for-action ahead of the floor vote. Many state associations also reached out to their Congressional delegations in support of the bill. NAR looks forward to working with the Senate on crafting a companion bill and ultimately working to see this legislation passed into law.