Website accessibility & litigation, mandatory vaccination for RTW, religious discrimination and accommodation, controversial lawn ornaments, and more in Our Social Media Posts This Week, May 2-8, 2021.

Below is a review of the posts (on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) from the past week. You can check out the full posts by clicking on the links.

RULING IN FAVOR OF WINN DIXIE potentially aids all employers relative to webstie accessibility

In the post on Sunday 5/2/21 we noted that because of Winn Dixie, companies threatened with website accessibility litigation can raise stronger defenses. The case is not binding on us here in PA, but it provides good guidance. The federal appeals court ruled in a case filed against Winn Dixie by a legally blind person who said that the chain’s website was somewhat incompatible with screen-reader software he used to brose the Web. The 2 aspects of the website that are emphasized in the suit (and which are pretty important) are noted in the post. After a trial, the judge entered judgment for the plaintiff. On what basis that occurred, and the general contents of the trial court’s order/judgment, are in the post. On appeal the court reversed, finding that websites are not places of public accommodation under the ADA (and, as part of that, joining the majority of courts hat have ruled on the issue and supporting the ruling by noting that an interpretive regulation issued by DOJ also does not include websites or intangible places/spaces as being included within public accommodations covered by the ADA . There was also another basis for reversal – noted in the post – which has been the crux of many decisions in other courts too, some of which have come out differently than did this case. A summary of those outcomes and the court’s analysis here is in the post.

TAKEAWAY: The outcome here was based in large part on the specific facts of the case (see the post); the results in other cases are expected to vary depending on the facts of those cases and the courts in which the cases are brought.

mandatory vaccines required of employee? restaurant patrons? babysitters?

The post on Monday 5/3/21 asked: Can your employer require a vaccination? Probably. And so can a restaurant or hotel or parents for babysitting …. We’ve talked bout this over and over, but it is So important with the economy opening up again and people being asked (or required) to return to the  workplace. We know that employers can mandate vaccination under certain circumstances (see the post) and with certain notifications (again, see the post). Also, remember that there are exceptions to a mandatory vaccination requirement on the grounds of disability or religious beliefs (and how an exception might play out is dealt with in the post). And can employers ask if someone has been vaccinated? The answer (plus what to ask) is in the post. And just like the workplace, so too the hospitality sector (restaurants and more) may require vaccinations as long as they accommodate those unable to get vaccinated due to disability or religious beliefs. So how about when you hire a babysitter: can proof of vaccination be required? See the post for the answer and reasoning.

TAKEAWAY: There are many intricacies related to vaccination in the workplace and other parts of everyday life – consult a knowledgeable employment lawyer for assistance.

eeoc guidance on religious discrimination and accommodation

The post on Tuesday 5/4/21 told us that the EEOC issued new Guidance on religious discrimination and accommodation of religious beliefs. The Guidance came out earlier this year and reflects one of the EEOC’s enforcement priorities. It is also the first update since 2008. Two main areas of emphasis in the Guidance are reasonable accommodation and undue hardship. As to the first, the Guidance gives examples of accommodations (see the post) and is somewhat creative at times. Relative to undue hardship (which beliefs an employer has a duty to accommodate), the Guidance specifies that the factors to be considered include the cost in relation to the size and operating costs of the employer and more as noted in the post. The Guidance even provides examples – see the post. So, what types  of questions are still left unanswered? What are the outside boundaries of an employer’s right to exercise its religious beliefs in the workplace, an employee’s right to exercise his or her religious beliefs in the workplace, and third as noted in the post.

TAKEAWAY: as claims of failure to accommodate as a result of religious discrimination continue to rise, employers must know the law and what they can or cannot do – and how to defend if and when a charge or suit is brought.

condo/hoa rules disallowing pickup trucks and more

From the post on Wednesday 5/5/21 we learned what can be done about condo or homeowner association rules that do not allow pickup trucks? Remember that one important piece of life in a planned community (including condominiums, townhomes or single-family homes within an association) is knowing what the various restrictions are and being prepared to abide by them. Parking can be an important issue since most families have more than one vehicle and space may be at a premium, especially in a condominium community. See the post for a more general overview.

TAKEAWAY: A condominium or homeowner association’s Governing Documents are valid as against every resident; contact an experienced community association lawyer if there are problems or questions.

controversial lawn ornament ignited planned community battle

In the post on Thursday 5/6/21 we read about a controversial lawn decoration that ignited a battle within a planned community. One just never knows what will set off another person. Here it was a frog statuette in a neighbor’s lawn. Really. The person who complained to the homeowners’ association said that she and her 6-year-old daughter pass it on their daily walks. What she also posted about the ornament is noted in the post. Her request that  the neighbor move the frog was rebuffed, so she reached out to the Association’s VP.  What happened next? See the post. And what types of reactions were there from both neighbors and others? Again, see the post.

TAKEAWAY: Let’s reiterate what we said yesterday: one important piece of life in a planned community is knowing the various restrictions and being prepared to abide by them. Whether or not there is harm or damage doesn’t’ come into play.

ada compliance in websites

The post on Friday 5/7/21 talked about ADA compliance in websites (coming full circle to where we began the week). We noted that whether or not it’s legally required, there are easy fixes. Website compliance with the ADA has 3 levels: use of color, minimum contrast, and enhanced contrast. A description of each of those levels is in the post. So why might you want to ensure that your website is ADA compliant even if not legally mandated to do so? First, SEO performance. See the detail on this – and your potential ROI – in the post. Also, how it translates to sales and market share; again, see the post for an explanation.

TAKEAWAY: When it’s so easy to help your company’s bottom line, why not ensure your website is ADA compliant?

implications from court’s denial of uber’s motion to dismiss adA discrimination complaint

Finally, in the post yesterday 5/8/21, we learned that a court denied Uber’s motion to dismiss an ADA discrimination complaint against it. There are potential broad implications from this decision. . The suit was brought under the ADA and DC’s Human Rights Act. One allegation in the complaint is that Uber, which uses a ride-sharing app to connect users to derivers, “systemically discriminates against those disabled individuals in the District of Columbia who use non-foldable wheelchairs, because Uber’s wheelchair accessible ride-share services are allegedly far less reliable and predictable than its non-wheelchair accessible offerings.” Another allegation is noted in the post. A key part of the complaint is how and why Uber is allegedly covered by the ADA (and DC law). Uber moved for dismissal of the complaint based on a lack of standing and other reasons noted in the post. As to the motion to dismiss, the court found standing and nexus (the post details how and on what basis) and so denied the motion. The case proceeds.

TAKEAWAY: The easiest way to defend a lawsuit is to not take action that is illegal in the first place – know the law on disability and accommodation and contact a lawyer for assistance to be sure.  

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