DOJ Increases Penalties For ADA Violations…don’t let this be YOU.
Did you know that you can be fined $75k for a single ADA violation? ADA signs are not exempt from this fine and states and local jurisdictions are getting serious about enforcing ADA violations. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) made adjustments to the civil monetary penalties under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the official ADA website:
On March 28, 2014, the Department of Justice issued a Final Rule that adjusts for inflation the civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced by the Civil Rights Division, including civil penalties available under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). For the ADA, this adjustment increases the maximum civil penalty for a first violation under title III from $55,000 to $75,000; for a subsequent violation the new maximum is $150,000. The new maximums apply only to violations occurring on or after April 28, 2014.
Hospitality – The DOJ in Action
A recent article titled Failure to provide an Ounce of ADA Compliance is worth a Pounding by the DOJ – What you can learn from the DOJ’s settlement agreement with Starwood and The Phoenician cites examples of current lawsuits with Starwood, The Phoenician, and Hilton Hotels. The article’s author, Marty Orlick, states that the DOJ will be focusing on civil rights investigation in the hospitality industry.
To reinforce this statement, at the recent 2013 National ADA Symposium which I attended, the former chief of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division (the principal enforcement agency for the ADA), noted that the hospitality industry remains a prime focus of the department’s civil rights investigations.
The take away is that penalties can be avoided by following ADA guidelines from the start. The Architectural and Design communities create sign packages; sign fabricators make ADA signs. Smart fabricators who understand the ADA and the penalties associated with non-compliance will have their clients sign a waiver stating that they acknowledge the ADA signs being made are not complaint. If the A&D and Sign communities work together, these fines can be avoided altogether.
Property owners like Starwood and The Phoenician ultimately pay the fine for not being compliant; but the occupants with visual or other disabilities are the real ones paying the price when facilities are non-compliant.
2010 Standard for Accessible Design
The 2010 Standard for Accessible Design was signed into law by Attorney General Eric Holder on July 23, 2010. The official text was published in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010 (corrections to this text were published in the Federal Register on March 11, 2011).
Under the ADA, all public facilities must be compliant. Room identification signs make up the largest number of signs in facilities; all permanent rooms must have ADA compliant signs.
Section 7 deals with Signage and Detectable Warnings and contains several key changes that effect room identification signs.
- Minimum of 1/8″ kerning between characters
- Ability to use Dual Message signs
- Mounting height of signs are now 48″ – 60″
- San Serif fonts
NP (Nova Polymers) offers an AIA Continuing Education course that focuses on the ADA titled: “Accessibility & The ADA – 2010 Standard For Room Identification Signs“. The course can be presented live or via a quarterly webinar.