Defending Businesses involved in Disability Law Claims– Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA), Americans With Disability Act (ADA), California Disabled Persons Act and Unruh Civil Rights Act Violations
We provide ADA law advice and counsel for businesses and property owners involved in alleged statutory violations under the Americans With Disability Act (ADA), Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA), California Disabled Persons Act, and Unruh Civil Rights Act. An effective ADA law defense can assist businesses and property owners who likely had no intention of violating the law. Knowing the statutes that support these claims is a good step in limiting or eliminating your exposure to these types of claims.
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), California Disabled Persons Act: Federal and State Discrimination/Disability Access Claims
ADA and the California Disabled Persons Act (Civil Code section 54 et seq.) are also regularly cited in disability law claims. These acts prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities and a denial of access to places of public accommodation. A business or premises owner can be found to have discriminated against a person because of his/her disability by unintentionally violating state and federal statutes that make an employment practice or building a per se violation of the law. The best way to provide an effective ADA law defense is to understand the specific statutory requirements of each statute as each provide severe penalties for businesses who violate them even if the business owner had no intention to discriminate. Business owners are expected to know the law even if management is unaware of the alleged misconduct, the company can be held liable for acts of its employees if the plaintiff establishes “constructive” knowledge. This puts the onus on the business to implement policies and procedures to prevent workplace or housing discrimination and to document its efforts to comply with the law.
Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA)
FEHA is one of the primary statutes typically cited in an ADA law litigation claim. FEHA provides protection from harassment or discrimination in employment and housing because of age (40 and over), ancestry, color, religion, denial of family and medical care leave, disability (mental and physical) including HIV and AIDS, marital status, medical condition, national origin, race, sex, sexual orientation, and religious creed.
ADA law and prohibited housing practices claims can be brought under FEHA and include discrimination and harassment in all aspects of housing including sales and rentals, evictions, terms and conditions, mortgage loans and insurance, and land use and zoning, and requires providers to make reasonable accommodation in rules and practices to permit persons with disabilities to use and enjoy a dwelling and to allow persons with disabilities to make reasonable modifications of the premises. FEHA likewise prohibits retaliation against any person who has filed a complaint with the Department, participated in a Department investigation or opposed any activity prohibited by the Act. Businesses that violate the law can be obligated to provide:
- Housing If Previously Denied
- Out-Of-Pocket Expenses
- Cease and Desist Orders
- Damages for Emotional Distress
- Reasonable Attorneys Fees and Costs
- Expert Witness Fees
- Civil Penalties
- Court Ordered Punitive Damages
- Unruh Civil Rights Act Penalties
Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh)
Another statute regularly cited in ADA law litigation claims is the Unruh Civil Rights Act which is codified as California Civil Code section 51.5 et seq. and prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation. Businesses involved in any public accommodation such as restaurants, hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, hospitals, hair salons, gas stations and property owners who provide housing accommodations or retail establishments are subject to Unruh.
Since the passage of the ADA and California Disabled Persons Act, Unruh and disability law claims have increased significantly, corresponding with ADA and Civil Code access violations as disability access plaintiffs are allowed to tack on state claims for money damages along with demands for injunctive relief when filing disability access lawsuits. Unruh allows plaintiffs to claim treble damages with a minimum of $4000 per access violation plus attorneys fees. Thankfully, California has recently implemented restraints on these types of claims by implementing legislation that has lowered the recovery for violations and imposed notice requirements to businesses 30 days before filing suit in some cases, but the new laws have yet to be tested.
Why Hire Ghantous Law Corporation?
We can provide an effective ADA litigation defense and understand that litigation is a distraction to a business. Our ultimate goal is to help your business choose the path less likely to result in litigation and assist you with a proactive ADA litigation defense. Our industry knowledge, litigation expertise, and understanding of our clients’ unique business needs enable us to assist clients in making informed decisions on the litigation course and deciding on whether cases should be settled or tried. Should litigation become necessary, we can appropriately control the litigation costs without compromising the overall objective of successfully putting an end to the litigation in the least costly manner. We have successfully defended companies against lawsuits alleging housing discrimination and disability law claims and will work with your business to properly document its compliance with these laws while providing counsel and advice on these ever-evolving statutory requirements and the potential risks specific to these types of claims which may include attorney’s fees, expert costs, administrative fines and punitive damages.