Major Corporations Sued Over Website Accessibility

Major Corporations Sued Over Website Accessibility
ADA Compliance Lawsuits
Title III ADA lawsuits and settlements can affect companies of all sizes across various industries. Below are just some of the most high-profile cases to make headlines in recent years.

Netflix Logo In 2012, the National Association of the Deaf brought a lawsuit against Netflix for failing to provide adequate closed captioning on most of its “Watch Instantly” content. At the time, the streaming service landscape was much less abundant than it is now: Netflix was the only major online-only movie-watching service, making the disparity in access for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing much more significant.

The world’s top e-Commerce company Amazon was sued as recently as 2018 over accessibility barriers to users who are blind or visually impaired. Like many other cases on this list, the main complaints were an inability to use screen readers on the website and incompatibility with refreshable Braille displays. The ADA lawsuit ended in a settlement.

Nike Logo Nike came under fire in 2017 because its websites – Nike.com and Converse.com – were inaccessible to visually impaired users, a widespread violation of Title III website accessibility guidelines. Visually impaired users rely on screen-reading software to read text from a website aloud. For this software to work, websites must be designed to be compatible with it. Nike, along with many other companies on this list, failed to create its website usable with screen readers, meaning visually impaired users could not use or make purchases from its sites without assistance.

Fox News Logo Accessibility Fox News Network was the target of a class action lawsuit that resulted in a settlement in 2018. Many of the complaints in the Fox case were similar to those in other topics on this list, creating barriers for users with visual impairments. These included a lack of alt text for images and links and redundant or empty links hampered keyboard-based navigation for blind or visually impaired users.

Burger King Logo Visually-impaired users sued Burger King, a major restaurant corporation over the inaccessibility of their website for visually impaired users is Burger King. In early 2018, a visually impaired woman who claimed she could not use the website without assistance sued the company. Once again, one of the leading accessibility issues cited was a lack of ability to use screen readers, making it impossible for visually impaired users to engage with the site’s visual content.

Dominos Pizza Logo In an ADA lawsuit settlement similar to the ones brought against Nike and Beyonce’s company, a blind man named Guillermo Robles sued Domino’s Pizza in 2019 over violations of ADA Title III. According to the complaint, he could not order food from Domino’s website and app despite using screen-reading software. Robles won the case, setting a powerful example for businesses. Domino’s Pizza appealed this case to the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court denied the petition to hear whether its website is required to be accessible to the disabled, leaving in place a lower court decision against the company.

Beyonce Knowles Parkwood Entertainment Logo On January 3, 2019, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Beyonce Knowles’ company, Park Entertainment, because the website that sold concert tickets and other goods and services related to Beyonce’s music was missing several fundamentals of website accessibility.

That included a lack of alt text for essential images (the alt text is necessary for visually impaired users who use screen readers to describe images), inaccessible drop-down menus and navigation buttons, and the inability to use a keyboard instead of a mouse. The class-action lawsuit focused particularly on users who are legally blind – a category that includes a range of visual impairments, not just total blindness.
This high-profile Title III ADA lawsuit settlement spotlighted some of the most fundamental elements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Blue Apron Logo A 2017 ADA lawsuit against the meal kit service Blue Apron became an important case law precedent. Blue Apron does not operate a “brick and motar” store. This ADA lawsuit highlighted the importance not just of physical accessibility but also of digital accessibility.

This lawsuit helped clarify the importance of website accessibility in ADA Title III, making clear that even companies with no physical premises can be sued for ADA violation if their websites – their primary “place” of business – is not accessible.

Winn Dixie Logo Florida resident Juan Carlos Gil sued grocery store chain Winn-Dixie in what was deemed the first trial of its kind. The judge ruled that because Winn-Dixie’s website was so heavily integrated with its physical stores, it was subject to accessibility requirements outlined in the ADA. This case – resting on the complaint that the website was not accessible to visually impaired users relying on screen reader technology – helped pave the way for many similar cases listed below.

The Bottom Line

While the legal exposure and potential damages from not being ADA compliant are significant, the damage to your corporate brand reputation can be even more critical. When consumers learn that a company is facing a lawsuit for not providing equal access to its website or online content, they may view the company negatively. This can damage your brand and make it difficult to attract new customers.

Making your website ADA-compliant shows that you are committed to providing equal access to everyone. It can help you avoid the negative publicity and reputation damage that comes with lawsuits. Compliance with the ADA is essential if you want to protect your brand and build a strong reputation.

Sources

1.  U.S. Department of Justice | Settlements and Lawsuits

 

Lookit Services

Share This Page