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The Ninth Circuit put in its order to Domino's, but it wasn't for pizza, or even chicken wings. It was to get its website and mobile app compliant with the American Disability Act so that the visually impaired could have full use of their site, including ordering and discounted deals. Lawsuits such as these are becoming more and more common as technology advances to make online content more accessible to those with vision impairment.
Guillermo Robles sued Domino's in federal court, claiming he could not order a customized pizza on the company app, due to being blind. Both the website and the mobile app were not compatible with his screen-reading software, which picks up on tags in the online code to vocalize what is seen on the screen.
Also due to the incompatibility, Robles claimed he was discriminated against because there were certain discounts offered only online that he could not access. All of these injuries, he claimed, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not conforming with current Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which are industry standards that federal agencies have adopted.
Last year, at the district court level, the judge dismissed Robles's claim, stating that though the website could have violated the ADA, the Guidelines had not been approved by the Department of Justice, and therefore holding this against Domino's in a court of law violated the company's due process rights.
However, on appeal, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. They stated that Domino's restaurants are public places and therefore the ADA applied to the company and its website. As for violating Domino's due process by not imposing strict government created guidelines prior to the lawsuit, the panel stated that the ADA had been in existence since the 1990's, and that website compliance had been enforced since 1996. Expecting Domino's to be in compliance should come as no surprise to Domino's. As Justice John B. Owen's so eloquently stated, "The Constitution only requires that Domino's receive fair notice of its legal duties, not a blueprint for compliance with its statutory obligations."
Domino's is the latest company to be hit by online ADA compliance. Other defendants in similar actions include Playboy and Beyonce. Clearly, as technology advances at a rapid rate in the online arena, companies will be forced to invest a bit more in their online space to make sure that all are included, as required by the ADA.
If you are concerned whether your company's online presence is ADA compliant, contact a local business and commercial lawyer. A legal adviser can discuss WCAG 2.0, and help you create a plan towards compliance, and keep you from being hit with an ADA lawsuit.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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