Retailers disappointed Supreme Court will not hear ADA website case

"This is an issue that needs the clarity of a Supreme Court ruling."

NRF SVP and General Counsel Stephanie Martz

WASHINGTON – The National Retail Federation said it was disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear a case that would have enabled the court to establish a reasonable, nationwide standard for evaluating website accessibility claims filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“With a growing number of website accessibility cases being filed and conflicting rulings from circuit courts across the country, this is an issue that needs the clarity of a Supreme Court ruling,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Stephanie Martz said. “Without guidance on what rules should apply, litigation will continue to divert resources from actually making websites accessible.”

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 in July, NRF and the Retail Litigation Center said a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had stretched the definition too far by deciding that websites and mobile applications must be judged as public accommodations 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 its made-to-order-pizza was accessible to the customer in-store, by phone, text, social media and other means. 

The brief asked the Supreme Court to take up the case, but the justices today refused to do so without comment.

About NRF
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.