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ADA, FHA and Disabilities Law Practice

Saul Ewing represents public and private employers across the country in employment discrimination cases, including disability discrimination cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  But there is much more to the firm’s ADA, FHA (“Fair Housing Act”) and Disabilities Law Practice, especially in the areas of public access claims and accessible design and construction.  Saul Ewing represents businesses, nonprofits and governmental entities on numerous related issues, such as:

  • Accessible design and construction issues under federal and state laws and codes, including the ADA and ICC/ANSI; ADA barrier removal in existing facilities, and program accessibility for governmental entities and recipients for federal financial assistance;
  • Non-discrimination issues involving customers, patients, tenants, students and others under ADA Titles II and III, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and state civil rights laws; and
  • Navigating the overlapping coverage of these laws.

ADA, FHA and Disabilities Law Services

Saul Ewing attorneys complement and support in-house compliance efforts to comply with requirements for accessibility and accommodations for people with disabilities by providing the following services:

Entities Challenged Under the ADA and other Accessibility Laws

  • Early assessment of complaints and claims
  • Defense of lawsuits and charges nationwide
  • Defense of class-action and pattern and practice claims
  • Negotiation with the U.S. Department of Justice, state Attorneys General, local agencies, advocacy groups and private claimants
  • Handle "drive-by" litigation

Landlords and Tenants

  • Assistance in drafting clauses allocating responsibility for ADA issues and indemnification in claims
  • Joint defense of lawsuits
  • Analyzing and addressing “path of travel” issues in remodeling programs and alterations
  • Pre-lease due diligence on potential accessibility problems
  • Negotiation with other potentially responsible entities
  • Interpretation of requirements in a range of accessibility laws
  • Negotiations with local code officials
  • Assistance with seeking waivers of state accessible design standards
  • Defense of complaints and lawsuits against architects
  • Develop ADA self-evaluations and assistance in setting priorities for barrier removal

Contractors and In-House Construction Departments

  • Negotiations with local code officials
  • Develop ADA “punch lists”

Operations/Customer Service in "Places of Public Accommodation"

  • Assist in addressing customer complaints
  • Respond to DOJ complaints and represent entities in mediation
  • Respond to state civil rights investigations
  • Develop customer service training and preventive policies and procedures
  • Address accessibility issues involving new products and services, including on-line services and website accessibility

Risk Managers and Defense Attorneys

  • Handle ADA issues in personal injury cases
  • Identify and work with expert witnesses on accessible design and accessibility code issues
  • Address federal law pre-emption of state tort claims

Manufacturers

  • Address ADA compliance of products in advertising (yours or a competitor’s ads)
  • Application of accessible design and DOJ regulation to products, fixtures and equipment
  • Assist in securing approval of purchasing departments or agencies requiring ADA compliance
  • Assist in bid protests

Trade Associations and Legal/Legislative Affairs Departments

  • Work with federal and state agencies to secure interpretations or waivers
  • Prepare comments in response to rulemakings

Multi-family and Transient Housing Industry (Developers, Property Managers, Insurers):

  • Advice on new ADA requirements for various types of transient and multi-family housing
  • Defend claims under the Fair Housing Act and the ADA
  • Assist in interpreting overlapping requirements of the ADA, FHA and state codes 
  • Advise on individual requests from tenants and guests
  • Draft or revise ADA/FHA compliance guidance for property managers; and develop and present training programs

Colleges and Universities and Public and Private Schools

  • Provide self-evaluation assistance
  • Respond to student complaints and accommodation requests
  • Defend Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) complaints
  • Analyze and defend decisions regarding academic standards
  • Provide in-house training to faculty and other groups involved in compliance
  • Review and revise policies and procedures on accessibility and direct threat issues

State and Local Governmental Entities

  • Address the difference between "Facilities" Accessibility and "Program Access" and defend decisions

Other Covered Entities

  • Assist other entities in determining how overlapping federal laws apply to them.  Examples include: apprenticeship programs, which have attributes of both employment and schools; entities involved in testing for licensure or professional certifications; associations or private companies offering educational programs through conferences or on-line; and local government convention centers.