Rep. Stinziano’s ADA compliance bill (HB 333) will discourage compliance, eliminate legal remedies and penalize members of the disability community
January 9, 2014 / ADA
Representative Michael Stinziano recently introduced HB 333. Under the bill:
- Businesses, hospitals, landlords, transportation providers, and even schools will have an unlimited license to knowingly violate the requirements of the Ohio Civil Rights Act to make their services accessible to people with disabilities, so long as no one serves them with a written notice meeting precise technical requirements.
- A property owner or government agency will only have to make its services accessible if an individual with a disability sends a certified or hand-delivered letter, using the exact legalese specified in the bill, to explain exactly how the owner or agency has violated the law—even if the owner already knows about the violation or has even committed it intentionally.
- Even after this notice, the individual could still be denied access for at least an additional five months without any possible penalty. For instance, a landlord could prevent a blind tenant from having a needed guide dog in an apartment for five months, even after the tenant registers a complaint.
- If an individual with a disability does not use the exact notice required, or fails to issue the notice, and then tries to take legal action to fix an accessibility violation, the owner or agency can sue that individual. In other words, a business can intentionally discriminate against individuals with disabilities and then sue them for trying to enforce their legal rights.
- Federal law will still prohibit many of the same violations, and Ohio can’t just invalidate federal law, so businesses and members of the public will be needlessly confused about whether they are complying with the law and which procedures they have to follow to correct violations.
Individuals with disabilities know that accessibility is more than just a technical legal right—it is often what allows them to do the ordinary things everyone else takes for granted, like ride a bus or shop for groceries. HB 333 will deny or prevent individuals with disabilities from living a normal life in the community and encourage uncaring and unscrupulous businesses and government agencies to delay or avoid providing required access and accommodations.
Members of the public are encouraged to contact their state representatives to discuss the bill. Names and contact information for representatives are available at ohiohouse.gov/index.