By Craig B. Simonsen and Kristina M. Launey
This blog, as the “ADA Title III” name indicates, is primarily about a business’s obligation to individuals with disabilities who may access its goods, services, benefits, and accommodations, rather than employees with disabilities. However, we also frequently receive questions from entities that are subject to Title III about their obligations to provide accessible technology to their employees, so we thought this news would be of interest to our readers.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy recently announced the launch of a Web portal, spearheaded by ODEP’s Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT). PEAT is an initiative to promote the employment, retention, and career advancement of people with disabilities through the development, adoption, and promotion of accessible technology. The portal is intended to provide everything “from educational articles to interactive tools.” The content “aims to help employers and the technology industry adopt accessible technology as part of everyday business practice so that all workers can benefit.”
Available on the portal Resources & Tools is the “Accessible Technology Action Steps: A Guide for Employers.” The Guide aims to provide a “roadmap to ensure that the technology in your workplace is accessible to all employees and job applicants.”
This issue is not just on the government’s radar. At least one plaintiff’s firm in California is forcing businesses to deal with the issue of website accessibility in the employment context, recently filing a lawsuit against multiple retailer defendants alleging that the plaintiff was discriminated against in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (state equivalent of Title I of the ADA) and California’s Unruh Act (state equivalent of Title III of the ADA) because the businesses’ online applications were inaccessible and the companies refused to allow him any other method (i.e., paper) to apply.
These developments serve to remind businesses to review policies, procedures, training materials, and assistive technologies they use to interface with customers or employees to ensure those with disabilities are afforded equal access to the goods and services the business provides and to the benefits of employment, with or without reasonable accommodation.
Edited by Minh N. Vu.