Since October 24, 2019, blind and vision-impaired individuals have filed more than ninety lawsuits claiming that the public accommodations provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title III) and its state and local equivalents require retailers and restaurants that offer gift cards to offer those cards in Braille.
This slew of class actions is not the first time creative plaintiffs’ attorneys have advanced novel claims under public accommodations statutes, with differing levels of success. Recently, for example, a federal district court in New York dismissed a claim that a “no outside food” policy listed on the website of a theater violated the ADA because it excluded individuals with metabolic disorders. However, lawsuits alleging that websites are not properly accessible to the blind and vision-impaired have survived motions to dismiss in multiple jurisdictions. The same plaintiffs and law firms that pursued the website claims are now filing these gift card complaints.
Whether these plaintiffs have a viable theory is untested. It remains to be seen whether these claims will grow exponentially as website access claims have, or whether they will be dismissed like some other novel theories under Title III of the ADA. Littler is monitoring this development closely.