ADA Website Compliance: Do You Need 15 Employees Under Title III?

Listen to Podcast Episode 13 (MP3 File Download)

Full Transcript Below:

This is the Accessible.org Podcast. My name is Kris Rivenburgh.

And today I’m going to be solving a mystery. The mystery question is, Do you need to have 15 or more employees to be subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act?

So many people get this wrong. I get a lot of questions on it, but a lot of questions are preempted by Google results. So if you search for Google, there’s a snippet that comes up and it’s for Title I, and the Title I says that you need 15 or more employees to be subject to the ADA. A lot of people are done with research at that point.

But the problem is, is that snippet is from Title I. Title I concerns employment discrimination and employers. So employers with 15 or more employees need to be aware of Title I of the ADA. They fall subject to it. But that’s not for places of public accommodation – that’s Title III.

Title III has no 15 or more employees requirement. So what’s happening?

And this is crucial. This is a crucial detail. What’s happening is there are so many people as it concerns ADA Website Compliance that are washing their hands of this, thinking that they’re in good shape because they don’t have 15 or more employees.

You are absolutely subject to Title III as the legal landscape currently dictates. What’s happening is websites are being construed as places of public accommodation under Title III of the ADA. Title III only is concerned with places that are available or make themselves available to the general public. So they’re open to the general public. They serve the general public.

That’s what Title III is getting after, Title I is for employers and employment, and these two can- someone could be subject to both, right.

Let’s think of Costco. Costco can be subject to Title I because they employ 15 or more employees. Costco can also be subject to Title III because they’re a place that is open to the general public. They’re a place of public accommodation.

These are two separate titles that serve different areas of public life. They regulate different areas of public life, so you are absolutely if you have a website. As the legal landscape currently stands, you are subject to Title III of the ADA you do not need 15 or more employees.

It’s amazing how many websites get this wrong. And it’s not just the accessibility agencies. It’s not just the marketing agencies that are writing about this. It’s actual law firms get this wrong. And actual legal sites get this wrong. It’s amazing to me. No one seems to know the answer to this question.

And there is the answer: To be subject to the ADA, you do not need 15 or more employees and because this- this is obviously I’m speaking to ADA Website Compliance because that’s how I got on this topic is I keep getting questions about this, and then I started to research it to see what- why people kept- I was like, Why do people keep asking me this? What? Why isn’t this obvious? It’s because it’s not obvious.

If you search Google, it’s not obvious and they’re actually websites that are telling people the completely wrong information. Like you can go on the website and it says the opposite of what I just said. It’s because nobody is reading the damn law.

You have to read the law, and if you read it, you would understand that these are separate titles and I think what really gets people is Title I comes first. So there- they see that- that first sentence that says that you need 15 or more employees to be subject to Title I, and they just take that and they coast and they’re like, well, I’m good. The ADA is only for employers of 15 or more.

No, that’s just where employment discrimination. When it comes to the general public, you do not need to have 15 or more employees.

Think of- think of a restaurant. If I open a restaurant, can I just hire 14 employees and then be- not have to be subject to the ADA. No. You still have to make a restaurant accessible because it’s a place of public accommodation, which is what Title III is getting at.

So I’ve said it now a few different ways. I hope this is clear. I hope people now are not caught off guard when this comes up because you can absolutely get a demand letter or a lawsuit in the mail. And you might think, I’m this doesn’t apply to me. I don’t have 15 or more employees. Now you know the Americans with Disabilities Act absolutely applies to you because as the legal landscape stands, websites are currently being construed as places of public accommodation.

If you have any questions about ADA Website Compliance, you can email me at kris@accessible.org. You can also find my book on ADA Website Compliance at ADABook.com.

Finally, the other day, I was thinking how I don’t have a sponsor for this podcast, So I decided to make one. And my sponsor is going to be the senior dogs and the hospice dogs at dog shelters and dog rescues because they really need saving. And they really appreciate when you take them in, even if it’s only for a short time.

They’ve typically had an extremely rough life, and they’re so accustomed to just sitting in a cage and not doing anything and not having anything to spark their interest. There are so many worthy dogs out there that have amazing personalities, and they- they really appreciate being saved.

And I’ve been so impressed with the dogs that I’ve fostered or taking in as an adoption, and I can’t speak highly enough of them. And so I think it’s worth it, if you have the resource is if you’ve been open to the idea before but never followed through on it, I think it’s worth it just to consider maybe going down, maybe looking. You can look online right now and you can go through the different shelters, and there’s a lot of great dogs out there with amazing personalities. They’re super smart and they’re really appreciative. And it’s to me, it just all comes down to making sure the end of their life is as good as possible. And so that’s what they need because they’re, right now they’re in a cage and they’re not doing anything, and just for someone to pet them would mean a great deal.

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