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More Website Accessibility Lawsuits Likely After Supreme Court Declines Domino’s Petition
Domino’s must continue to face litigation over whether its website must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) after the United States Supreme Court declined Domino’s petition to review the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision against the company.
Guillermo Robles, a blind man, sued Domino’s after he was unable to order food on Domino’s website and mobile app. Domino’s argued (1) the ADA only covers physical locations and not online offerings, and (2) applying the ADA to ordering online violated Domino’s due process rights because the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) had promised, but failed, to provide guidance to businesses on how to make their websites accessible.
Ninth Circuit: ADA Requires Websites of Public Accommodations to be Accessible
The Ninth Circuit held that the ADA applied to Domino’s website and app because the ADA applies to the services of a public accommodation, not services in a place of public accommodation. Thus, even if customers primarily access the website and app away from Domino’s physical restaurants, the website and app connect customers to the goods and services of Domino’s physical restaurants.
The Ninth Circuit further held that the lack of specific regulations did not eliminate Domino’s duty under the ADA to provide an accessible website and app. Even though the DOJ has not issued specific guidance on how to make a website accessible, it has repeatedly affirmed the application of the ADA to websites of public accommodations.
Supreme Court Allows Ninth Circuit’s Decision to Stand
Although businesses were hoping the Supreme Court would grant them relief from an increasing number of website accessibility lawsuits by reversing the Ninth Circuit’s decision, the Court declined. Accordingly, the Ninth Circuit’s decision stands, and businesses should make sure their websites are accessible.
Although this case concerned a place of public accommodation, even businesses that do not have a physical store should take heed. Lawsuits have started to pop up claiming that inaccessible online job applications violate the ADA. There are many reasons it makes good business sense to ensure your website is accessible (in addition to helping you avoid litigation). For more information and tips on how to make your website accessible, view HEC’s article here.
 The Court specifically declined to decide whether the ADA covers websites or apps where their inaccessibility does not impede access to the goods and services of a physical location.