California Advocates Fight New Lawsuit Notification
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 1, 2006
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA--Disability rights advocates are strongly opposing a California measure that they say would weaken current anti-discrimination law.
The "Opportunity to Repair Act of 2006", which was filed in December with California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, would require individuals with disabilities who find accessibility problems to give businesses written notice before filing a lawsuit. The length of time between when the notice is given to when a business has to make changes could be several months.
The measure is supported by the California Building Industry Association, the California Restaurant Association, and other groups who claim that the law would prevent "rogue" attorneys from filing what they say are "frivolous" lawsuits.
Disability rights groups have fought such initiatives, including ongoing attempts to add a 90-day notification requirement to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. They point out that, if such notification is required, people with disabilities would be the only minority group that would have to give such notice before filing a discrimination lawsuit -- even though businesses have had since 1992 to comply with the federal law.
On January 13, a group of 45 advocates in wheelchairs and their supporters with the Californians for Disability Rights protested in front of the Sacramento offices of the building industry and restaurant associations.
"The voters of California would never vote to force Rosa Parks back to the back of the bus," Laura Williams, president of Californians for Disability Rights, told People's Weekly World.
Last week, the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that usually makes recommendations to the President and Congress on disability policy, sent a letter to Lockyer expressing concern over the measure.
"Businesses have had fifteen years to comply with the provisions of Title III of the ADA," wrote NCD Chairperson Lex Frieden. "The Department of Justice, with the assistance of the Internal Revenue Service, notified over six million businesses of their ADA responsibilities each year for seven years and told them how to obtain information on how to comply."
"Business Owners, Disabled Clash Over Measure to Change State ADA Laws" (KXTV-TV)
"Wheelchaired activists demand access rights" (People's Weekly World)
"NCD issues letter on California's proposed "Opportunity to Repair Act" (National Council on Disability)
"Opportunity to Repair of 2006" (Office of Attorney General Bill Lockyer)