Advisory on ADA Web Content for Craft Breweries
Is your business required to have an accessible website? According to several law firms specializing in defending against these types of cases, the answer is ‘yes’ if you want to avoid litigation risk.
In May of 2018, a California state court in Los Angeles held on summary judgment that a California restaurant violated the state’s Unruh Act by having a website that could not be used by a blind person with a screen reader and ordered the restaurant to make its website comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Level 2.0 AA. This was the second decision by a California state court on the merits of a website accessibility case. Since then, several CCBA members across the state have been notified by potential plaintiffs of potential website compliance issues and could be headed towards litigation or settlement proceedings.
This caution is not only being seen in California or in the brewing industry. In recent years there has been a proliferation of demand letters and lawsuits across the country alleging that businesses had denied a blind or vision-impaired individual access to its goods and services because the business’ website was not accessible, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state laws.
As you asses your business risk for litigation, CCBA encourages you to consult with an attorney on the best course of action for your brewery. Below are a few resources for you to read while you consider your options.
- Blog ADA Title III News & Insights Blog by Seyfarth Shaw LLP (Updated June 2018)
This blog post outlines the complaints from around the nation, including two in California. Each of these cases shows that the judges ultimately ruled in favor of compliances and in once case rejecting a plaintiffs argument of due process in waiting for “the Department of Justice issues regulations addressing website accessibility”
The WAI is an organization that advocates for these updates. This particular page provides a catalog of definitions for terms such as WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1. it can help you know if your site meets the standards that are at the core of the letters and lawsuits.
New York State has seen a high volume of these lawsuits and complaints. Attorney Chip Grieco writes for the NYBA that “The law as it currently stands is ambiguous in this realm, but a number of New York State wineries have recently faced lawsuits alleging that their websites are not ADA-compliant, a trend that may easily extend to New York’s burgeoning craft brewery industry.” You may find this to be useful as it relates directly to our industry regarding a federal law.
Questions? Please contact the CCBA government affairs team at firstname.lastname@example.org.