HR 620 – Proposed Amendments to Americans with Disabilities Act

February 22, 2018

Gutting the ADA, or Reasonable Accommodation for those required to accommodate?

The U.S. House of Representatives on February 15th passed HR 620, which would amend the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide a “notice and cure” period before a lawsuit could be filed. It now goes to the U.S. Senate.

The notice and cure provision would require a claimant to provide written notice of the alleged violation of the ADA, allows 60 days for the person given notice to acknowledge receipt of the complaint, and another 120 days to cure the problem before legal action could be initiated.

Proponents of the proposed amendment say that a negative aspect of the ADA is that it has turned into a hunting ground for unsavory lawyers to troll for small businesses to prey on and extort money for small, technical violations of the ADA. They contend that the proposed amendment will help alleviate this problem without depriving the disabled of any rights to pursue legal action. The notice and cure requirement is not uncommon to find in other areas of law with private rights of action, such as the Massachusetts Consumer Protection statute (M.G.L. c. 93A) or a demand to cease and desist an attempt at debt collection under the federal Fair Debt Practices Collection Act.

Opponents say the law guts the ADA by incentivizing businesses to do nothing to comply until and unless someone complains. And the six month time between the private complaint and ability to file a lawsuit constitutes “justice delayed is justice denied.”

The private listservs and disability rights websites that we at Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts watch are all in opposition to HR 620. For a short description of both sides of the matter, and to track the bill’s progress, check govtrackinsider.