What Does the Dominos ADA Ruling Mean for Business Websites?

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The U.S. Americans With Disabilities Act is traditionally considered in terms of access to physical locations.

In recent years, however, it has become increasingly clear that the ADA also guarantees access to information and services, including electronic information and services — namely, websites.

A U.S. Supreme Court move in October 2019 made that clearer than ever before. The high court declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that the Domino’s Pizza website ran afoul of the ADA, underscoring that the ADA does in fact apply to business websites.

Inside the Domino’s ADA Case

Citing the ADA’s guarantee of "full and equal enjoyment of the goods and services ... of any place of public accommodations,” a blind man’s lawsuit claimed Domino’s did not provide accommodations for him to order pizza online.

The lower court sided with the plaintiff. And when Domino’s appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the high court declined to hear the case.

SCOTUS didn’t rule or comment on the case and might hear it at another time. But the move for now locks in the lower court’s ruling that the ADA applies to "any place of public accommodation” whether it’s online or brick-and-mortar.

‘Potentially Far-Reaching Move’ For Broadly Interpreted ADA

The Los Angeles Times called it "a potentially far-reaching move” that "strongly suggests that retailers will be required to make their websites accessible.” Business groups worried about a "tsunami of litigation.”

And it’s a valid concern. The Supreme Court allowing the decision against Domino’s stand is the strongest evidence yet that business websites need to comply with the ADA (and specifically the ADA’s Section 508 regarding providers of electronic information).

Section 508 was created ostensibly for federal agencies, but in practice it has been applied to almost any electronic information and services, as well as their providers. The rule of thumb is that anyone with a website should heed the ADA.

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