"There is no clear guidance on what constitutes an 'accessible' website."NRF General Counsel Stephanie Martz
WASHINGTON – The Retail Litigation Center and the National Retail Federation today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take a case that will enable the court to establish a reasonable, nationwide standard for evaluating website accessibility claims filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
At issue is whether a website is a “public accommodation” like a physical store within the meaning of the ADA. In a brief filed with the court, the RLC and NRF explained that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stretched the definition too far by deciding that websites and mobile applications must be judged under the “public accommodations” standard rather than just considered as one of many ways in which a consumer might access a retailer’s offerings. The 9th Circuit determined that Domino’s Pizza violated the ADA because a customer encountered barriers ordering online despite the fact that their made-to-order-pizza was accessible to the customer in store, by phone, text, social media and other means.
“Retailers have a vested interest in ensuring that all consumers have access to the goods and services that they offer and therefore use a variety of programs tailored to the needs of their customers,” said Deborah White, president of the Retail Litigation Center and senior executive vice president and general counsel of the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “Unfortunately, the 9th Circuit’s decision only invites private-party litigation that runs counter to the goals of the ADA, consumers and the retailers who serve them. If retailers are forced to comply with this standard, initiatives that might better meet the needs of customers with disabilities could get thwarted.”
“The online environment was never intended to be covered by the ADA,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Stephanie Martz said. “The ADA took effect before the internet as we know it today existed, and more than 25 years later there is no clear, objective guidance on what constitutes an ‘accessible’ website. Retailers are committed to making their websites accessible, but litigation only diverts resources and drives up costs for all consumers rather than allowing businesses to find a solution that works.”
The case is Domino’s Pizza LLC v. Guillermo Robles. The RLC and NRF filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court asking the court to grant the Domino’s petition to take the case and eventually reverse the 9th Circuit’s decision.
Directed by the chief legal officers of the country's leading retail companies, the Retail Litigation Center is the only organization dedicated to advocating for the industry's top priorities in the federal and state judiciary. The RLC also works with leading law firms and retail corporate counsel to develop forward-thinking strategies to combat meritless mass action litigation. Founded by the Retail Industry Leaders Association in 2010 as an independent organization, the RLC is a 501(c)(6) membership association open to all retailers and select law firms.
The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.