Is Small Business Affected by the ADA? | Sharlin Law Business Attorney

Are Small Businesses Affected by the ADA?

Are Small Businesses Affected by the ADA?

It is a common mistake for the owners of small businesses to assume that certain legal provisions do not apply to them because of their size. Of course, assumption is always a mistake, but that is why you have business law attorneys to learn how the law applies to you. In the case of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to avoid legal liability, there are exemptions for some sections. For example, businesses that employ fewer than 15 people are exempt from some portions. Meanwhile, other provisions apply to all businesses providing services to the public.  

Letter of the Law

Let us examine the ADA even closer. Since it was established in 1992, the law has been revised numerous times. This may continue. Therefore, you should stay apprised of all changes and amendments to its regulations. Title I relates to equal rights in employment for both applicants and current employees, as long as your small business has 15 or more staff. Skip Title II, as it applies to public entities, such as state or local governments. Title III, however, prevents discrimination against customers with disabilities and requires businesses to provide accommodations that improve accessibility and participation for disabled customers. No business is exempt from this one, regardless of size.

ADA & Customers

According to the United States Department of Justice, more than 50 million Americans have some form of disability. You are expected to make a reasonable effort to accommodate these customers. Allow service animals to accompany their owners. Provide effective communication alternatives for customers who have speech, hearing or sight-related disabilities. You are not required to do this, however, if an effective alternative already exists.

ADA & Employees

It bears repeating that if you employ 15 or more people, you must offer equal opportunities to job applicants with disabilities. Disabled employees must not be discriminated against because of their disability. You are required to provide them with the opportunity for a reasonable accommodation that will enable them to do their job. Always determine if alternative funding options exist for any accommodation, such as state programs or tax deductions.


This legislation requires that you abide by its accessibility provisions, no matter how old your building is. If you provide goods or services to customers, you must remove structural barriers to access. This could mean something as simple as replacing steps with a ramp.

As a small business owner, your resources may be considerably more limited than a large corporation. ADA regulations do take this into account. However, they are quite detailed with many specifications. It is crucial that you stay up to date.

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