ADA Actions Being Brought Against Wineries

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Several lawsuits have been brought against New York wineries for failure to make their websites compliant with the American Disabilities Act. According to Thomas Pellechia at Forbes, however, there is little certainty about what businesses must have ADA-compliant websites and even how such businesses can ensure their websites conform with ADA standards:

In a recent blog post the Napa and Sonoma law firm of Dickenson Peatman & Fogerty (DPF) a firm that deals with many legal aspects of the beverage alcohol industry explained, “ There is considerable ambiguity in the law as to which companies are required to make their websites Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant and what actually constitutes ADA compliance…

Everyone knows many wineries operate an onsite (physical) tasting room. There, ADA certainly applies. But DPF says the courts have been less than helpful in determining which businesses must make websites ADA compatible. For instance, according to DPF, “The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a website that is not tied to a place of public accommodation or that is attached to a place that does not qualify as a public accommodation is not subject to the ADA.”

Also according to DPF, however, “… there are cases in which courts have concluded that a stand-alone website service without a physical location can itself be considered a place of public accommodation, and subject to ADA requirements.” That means that wine producers who do not have a physical location but sell through a website may need to comply.

The truly crazy part of this story is that wineries seeking to bring their websites into ADA compliance will be unable to find U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) guidelines on how to go about doing it. In an article on this subject, a DOJ spokesman told the Wine Spectator the department is “evaluating whether specific web-accessibility standards are necessary to ensure compliance with the ADA.” …

Read the whole article here.