From DREDF: Complete Post through this link…
If testers are stripped of standing, the result will be less private enforcement of the ADA, a less accessible society, and the continued exclusion of people with disabilities from community life.
ighteen leading disability advocacy organizations have filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Acheson Hotels v. Laufer, a case that will decide whether testers – disabled people who investigate compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – have the ability to sue businesses for discrimination when their rights under that law are violated. The case is scheduled to be heard on October 4, 2023.
Civil rights testing – intentionally investigating and challenging discrimination – has been used as an effective tool of enforcement since the 1950s, helping ensure that public accommodations were integrated and housing discrimination, challenged. Congress included the same enforcement tools when it passed the ADA in 1990 that it had included in these earlier civil rights laws, and testing has proven to be an essential enforcement tool in this context as well.
Deborah Laufer is one such tester. She is a person with disabilities who has filed numerous cases against hotels for violating an ADA regulation that requires hotels to include certain information about accessibility features in their online reservation systems. Ms. Laufer is a “tester” in her cases because she voluntarily puts herself in a situation to experience discrimination – specifically, she visits hotel websites to investigate compliance with the reservation rule – and when denied the information to which the ADA regulations entitle her, she challenges that discrimination in court and seeks to make the hotels comply with the law.
Despite acknowledging that they were, in fact, violating the ADA, hotelier Acheson doesn’t think that tester standing is fair, and argues that people like Ms. Laufer should have an immediate plan to stay at a hotel before they can challenge the hotel’s discrimination. Acheson asks the Supreme Court to reverse a First Circuit opinion upholding discrimination claims brought against them by Ms. Laufer as a tester.
The brief of amici opposes Acheson’s request and defends testing as essential to the enforcement of the ADA, arguing that eliminating tester standing would frustrate the ADA’s goal of equality of opportunity. Amici discuss how the indignity of unequal treatment has long been recognized as the sort of harm that can be remedied in court and explains how an individual’s motive, or status as a tester, does not change that. Amici also dispel a number of false claims made by Acheson and its supporters about ADA litigation.
“If individuals with the fortitude to take on the burden of ADA litigation as testers are stripped of standing, the result will inevitably be less enforcement of the ADA, frustration of its goals, and the continued exclusion of people with disabilities from community life,” said Michelle Uzeta, Deputy Legal Director of amicus Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.