Every year, the month of January slows down the speed of business in the US. But this time, the situation for business may deteriorate as the federal government shutdown would likely to make it worse. The good thing is that the shutdown would not last for a long period of time, hence it would be easy to regain the momentum soon after the shutdown comes to an end. According to reports, federal workers have been absent or working without pay since December 22. But still, there will be no issue for them in receiving a paycheck from the US government between Dec 28 and Jan 3. This paycheck will be smaller than as usual but the next one which is due on Jan 11 would only come if Donald Trump and Congress give their consent for it.
The economist, Stephen Fuller, head of the Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University told that it is not possible right now to tell how many people would get affected due to the shutdown. According to economists and marketing experts, the contractors and many industries would bear the brunt of this shutdown. And mostly, small businesses such as retailers inside federal buildings and food trucks that largely depend on the spending of federal workers and contractors.
Since the shutdown period always remains slow every year so it won’t get reflected in the economic indicators much. People restrict their spending post-Christmas so there will not be much loss due to the shutdown. Also, tourism during this phase of time also remains on the lower-side so this is not a significant subject to worry. As is the tradition every year, if the Trump government pays the paycheck to federal workers once the shutdown is over, then it will not affect the economy much.
“Because it’s the slowest time of the year, the side effects are considerably smaller just because the economy is in suspended animation at this point,” Fuller said. If the continues for over six month then it would affect everyone otherwise there is no such need to worry due to it.
American Coffee Shop Closes after 3rd ADA Lawsuit
On April 30th, Jason’s Cafe closed after three different ADA lawsuits were filed against the restaurant. The cafe had been doing business in Menlo Park, California for 11 years.
These lawsuits were all filed for different reasons: the width of bathroom stalls was too narrow, the front door was too heavy, and the lines for the handicap spaces in the parking lot were faded beyond recognition.
Restaurant owner Jason Kwan says the building was old–built 40 or 50 years ago. This was before the ADA was in place. So, the original building plans did not comply with today’s expectations.
To meet the requirements of the ADA, Kwan would need to replace the front door or install a handicap door switch with a button, repaint the lines in the parking lot, and do a total renovation of the bathroom. These repairs would certainly add up.
But, if the changes are not made, Kwan will continue to be faced with even more costly lawsuits.
It seems that these are typically the types of buildings that are targeted for lawsuits. People familiar with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) know that, like Jason’s Cafe, these older buildings have likely not been renovated or updated to meet the standards required by the 1990s act.
Two of the three people who filed lawsuits against Jason’s Cafe have sued other restaurants for noncompliance. Each one had already sued a handful of restaurants and hotels in the years previous.
These lawsuits had a devastating effect on Kwan’s bottom line. Not only would he have to pay for the changes made to the restaurant, but he also needs to pay for his own legal fees and the legal fees of the plaintiff, along with any other damages incurred by the noncompliance.
After the third lawsuit, Kwan was forced to close his doors. He was understandably disappointed, saying, “That’s my baby right there.”
These lawsuits are not uncommon today, and small business like Jason’s Cafe need to be aware of the requirements expected of their stores and websites through the ADA.
In the first half of 2018, about 5,000 ADA lawsuits were filed. That number is up 30% from the previous year. Of those lawsuits, 1,053 of them were filed for noncompliance on business websites. This number increased a staggering 90% from the previous year.
A good example of noncompliance on a website comes from a lawsuit filed on Avanti Hotel.
This small, 10-room boutique was sued because its website was not accessible for non-seeing, non-hearing users. In order to have an ADA compliant website, it needs to be coded properly to allow for a screen reader to translate the information. Links and images need tags, videos need captions, etc.
Without proper coding, some people with disabilities will not have access to all of the information on the businesses’ sites.
Though there is no need for physical renovation in this case, these lawsuits can still be incredibly expensive. California sees more ADA lawsuits than any other state in the U.S. The state government has set a minimum $4,000 fee for non compliant businesses. This number does not include any legal fees for the defendant or the plaintiff. This minimum is only enforced in California at this time.
For Avanti Hotel, they were advised to take a settlement between $8,000 and $13,000 after all fees and costs for damages were covered.
These damages can be much higher depending on the sort of business/association being sued. Healthcare organizations with noncompliant sites have some of the biggest risks associated with these lawsuits.
A healthcare website that is not ADA complaint is a real danger to the health and wellness of disabled persons. Damages in these cases can easily add up to a six-figure fine. Organizations could lose business, government funding, their good reputation, and would risk the wellbeing of millions of disabled people.
ADA lawsuits are no small matter. They have the power to close down restaurants or businesses if owners are not careful. Many small businesses cannot afford the kinds of fees associated with these lawsuits. So, it is essential that business owners learn how to protect themselves and how to better serve their disabled patrons before they are faced with a lawsuit.
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