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You are here: Home » News » ADA Lawsuit – Franchises Considerations

June 7, 2024

ADA Lawsuit – Franchises Considerations

By Christy Kim, AIA, CASp

Challenges Faced by Franchise Chains in ADA/Access Lawsuits

Franchise chains often face ADA/accessibility lawsuits due to perceptions of their greater financial capacity. While some chains ensure compliance, others fail, leading to new locations being non-compliant from opening day. Franchisors frequently place financial responsibility on franchisees, even when non-compliance stems from franchisor designs or policies. Franchisees should request franchisor involvement in renovations involving accessibility for cost efficiency, and property owners should also contribute financially as renovations increase property value.
Franchisors typically:

  • Design, approve, and build structures.
  • Receive city approvals but accessibility codes and laws may often be overlooked.
  • Restrict property changes without prior approval.

Franchise chains frequently become targets of ADA/accessibility lawsuits for several reasons:

  1. Perceived Financial Resources: Franchise chains are often seen as having the financial capability to meet accessibility obligations or pay judgments.
  2. Compliance Variations: While some chains have made significant strides in meeting compliance standards, others may have not addressed accessibility issues. This discrepancy leads to new locations sometimes failing to meet access standards from their opening day.

 

Recommendations for Franchisors and Franchisees

Franchisors:

  • Should implement chain-wide compliance requirements, especially when renewing franchises.
  • Must play a strategic role in ensuring that all locations meet access standards, as they can manage renovations more cost-effectively than individual franchisees.

Franchisees:

  • Should not wait for franchisors to initiate compliance measures but should proactively address potential accessibility issues.
  • Should consider asking for active participation from franchisors in accessibility renovations.
  • Should also involve property owners financially in the renovation process, as these improvements increase the property value.

In conclusion, it is essential for both franchisors and franchisees to work collaboratively to address accessibility issues. By ensuring compliance with ADA/access laws, franchise chains can avoid costly lawsuits and create a more inclusive environment for all customers. It is recommended that all parties seek out legal counsel and/or ADA experts.

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be considered to replace legal advice or constitute legal expertise. Materials contained are a matter of opinion and should not be considered otherwise. Please consult legal counsel and/or an ADA expert as appropriate.

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