Federal accessibility laws don’t matter — California’s accessibility laws do

By Sheri Byrne-Haber: For More Info, Go Here…

ngd- An interesting possible approach to expanding accessibility requirements…

Federal laws are a minimum standard that must be followed by every entity they apply to in every US state/territory. The Supreme Court stated in Geier v. American Honda Motor Co. that individual states are allowed to pass laws that will “establish greater safety than the minimum safety achieved by a federal regulation intended to provide a floor.” California has grabbed on to that “greater safety than the minimum” part of the Geier case with a pretty strong grip. Let’s look at how this “floor/safer” federal/state balance has worked in the non-tech world.

  1. The federal EPA set guidelines for car gas mileage and air pollution
  2. California didn’t think those were good enough, and Californians were largely willing to pay more to reverse the choking pollution that had saturated the area in the 70s
  3. California passed stricter guidelines for within the state
  4. The current administration loosened the federal regulations, and then threatened legal action to undermine California’s stricter requirements
  5. California executed an end-run around this by making a private deal with auto manufacturers

Why is it California that matters? California:

  • is the largest state in the US
  • has a population larger than many countries
  • has the 5th largest GDP in the world (ranking just behind Germany and above the UK)

So why shouldn’t California have the right to define regulations that protect its citizens more strongly than the federal floors?

Because California is going down this road right now, woe be to the company outside of California that ignores California law and then tries to sell to California citizens. I have already written about the Unruh Act and recent California case law tying the Unruh Act (which comes with an automatic $4000 per violation fine) to digital accessibility. This article will focus on a law that is about to come into force: The California Consumers Privacy Act.

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