Online-Only Retailer Not a ‘Place of Public Accommodation’ Under ADA

September 22, 2022 | From HRCalifornia Extra

by Michelle Galbraith, J.D.; HR Adviser, CalChamber

The Unruh Civil Rights Act mandates that everyone in California is entitled to equal access to business establishments, regardless of their disabilities. Traditionally, this law has required that businesses make their physical premises accessible to individuals with disabilities. Now, as businesses develop more robust digital presences, some litigants have argued for extending Unruh Act provisions to websites as well.

In general, courts have held that brick-and-mortar businesses must ensure that their websites comply with the Unruh Act. But in a victory for one California employer, a California Court of Appeal recently held that certain provisions of the Unruh Act — which includes Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards — do not apply to a business that has only an online storefront (and no physical facility) (Martinez v. Cot’n Wash, Inc., B314476 (2022)).

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