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Protect Key Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Defending and expanding the rights of individuals with disabilities is one of the core civil rights priorities of the 21st century. Legislation was introduced that would undermine some of the most important measures that protect equal accessibility for individuals with disabilities. It is important to make our voices heard that no undermining changes should be made to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

On February 15, 2018 the House passed the ADA Education and Reform Act. Now we must work to make sure this dangerous legislation does not pass the Senate.

Urge your Senator to oppose any legislation similar to the ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620), legislation that would reverse the progress the ADA has ensured for over 27 years.

Background on the ADA Reform Bill

Businesses and other places of public accommodation have had 27 years to adjust to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Allowing businesses to wait until they are forced to change, instead of incentivizing accommodation facilities from the beginning, would be a hazardous step backwards. Proponents of the legislation cite concerns over frivolous lawsuits allegedly filed for financial reasons by predatory lawyers. The ADA does not allow people with disabilities to financially benefit from lawsuits seeking to make businesses more accessible. The lawsuits only require businesses to make changes that render their facilities accessible under ADA guidelines. State laws are the only ones that allow ADA lawsuits to yield financial claims against non-compliant businesses.

Under H.R. 620, an individual with a disability who seeks to challenge a public accommodation violation would have to wait up to 180 days before being able to file a civil action with the U.S. Department of Justice. This would represent a stark departure from the immediate injunctive relief available under the ADA. No other members of a federally protected class have to wait to exercise their legal rights alleging discrimination, just as people with disabilities should not have to wait months to enforce their civil rights under the ADA.

Lawsuits under ADA protections occur rarely, but are necessary tools for achieving justice and ensuring that all public places are accessible to all those who wish to enter.

Jewish Values and Accessibility

Jewish tradition speaks explicitly about the importance of creating a world that is accessible for all people. Leviticus teaches us, “You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14). We must work to ensure that there are no barriers to inclusion and access for all members of our community.

More information

For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Jonah Baskin at 202-387-2800.