Golden State High Court Recognizes Unintentional ADA Violations

June 12, 2009 ( - The California Supreme Court has decided that employers can be liable for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) even if they are unaware they are violating it.

Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar concluded that was a reasonable interpretation of the state Legislature’s decision in 1992 to amend the state’s Civil Rights Act to include ADA violations, The Recorder reported. The legal newspaper said the ADA provides for issuing injunctions regardless of the employer’s intent to violate the law, and Section 52 of the California Unruh Act provides for damages of at least $4,000 or as much as three times the actual harm.

“By incorporating the ADA into the Unruh Civil Rights Act, California’s own civil rights law covering public accommodations, which does provide for … a private damages action, the Legislature has afforded this remedy to persons injured by a violation of the ADA,” Werdegar wrote in the decision.

A disabled man, Kenneth Munson, sued Del Taco after complaining that its restaurant in Loma Linda, California, near San Bernardino, didn’t provide disabled parking or handicapped-accessible public toilets. Del Taco later spent $75,000 on renovations, the Recorder said.

The ruling is Munson v. Del Taco Inc. , 09 C.D.O.S. 7253.