Understanding Commercial Facility Obligations Under Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to provide disabled people with access to routine activities, protections, and benefits which most Americans take for granted, such as:

  • Equal access to employment, public transit, shopping opportunities, restaurants, and other businesses; and
  • Protection against discrimination on the basis of disability; and
  • Accessible workplaces.

Commercial facilities are covered by Title III of ADA. (The same section also deals with public accommodations, public transportation provided by private agencies, and private companies that offer licensing or certification courses and examinations.) Commercial facilities are defined as nonresidential locations such as office buildings, warehouses, and factories.

Requirements for Commercial Facilities Under Title III

Under Title III, commercial facilities must make reasonable modifications to accommodate individuals with disabilities. There are four specific requirements:

  1. Barriers that prevents people with disabilities from using the goods and services available at a commercial facility must be removed, provided that such changes can be accomplished without undue expense or difficulty.
  2. Auxiliary services and aids must be provided so that people with cognitive or sensory disabilities may have access to means of communication, unless doing so would result in undue difficulty or alter the operation in a fundamental manner.
  3. Any procedures, policies, or practices that are discriminatory in practice or effect must be modified unless doing so would fundamentally change the nature of the business and its offerings.
  4. Eliminate any unnecessary eligibility criteria that screens out or isolates people with disabilities or limits their equal and complete enjoyment of public accommodation.

Exceptions to Title III Requirements

There are exceptions to Title III requirements, namely:

  • Private clubs
  • Religious organizations
  • Historic properties whose historic significance could be destroyed by altering any of its features
  • Facilities under three stories tall or with less than 3,000 square feet per floor do not have to offer elevators unless the facility is a shopping mall, a public transit depot, the office of a health care provider, or an airport passenger terminal.

When it comes to complying with Title III of the ADA, determining what is absolutely required, what can be challenged based on the hardship involved, and what is exempt can be difficult for any business owner. The Trembly Law Firm has in-depth knowledge and extensive experience assisting businesses in enacting preventative measures to ensure ADA compliance as well as defending companies against ADA claims and lawsuits. We can help commercial facility owners and managers understand their obligations and comply with Title III to the maximum extent possible. Call us today at (305) 431-5678 to schedule a consultation.