By: Kevin A. Fritz
The Department of Justice recently issued a final rule increasing — due to inflation adjustment — the civil monetary penalties that a court can impose on a public accommodation in an enforcement action brought by the Attorney General under Title III of the ADA. The amounts of adjustments are determined according to a formula set forth in the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, the statute which provides for the regular evaluation of civil monetary penalties to ensure that they maintain their deterrent effect. Applying the formula to Title III, the adjustment increases the maximum civil penalty for a first violation from $55,000 to $75,000, and for a subsequent violation the maximum rose from $110,000 to $150,000. If you are wondering what constitutes a “violation” when, for example, there are multiple barriers at a particular facility, or multiple facilities are involved in a single enforcement action, Title III of the ADA states that “in determining whether a first or subsequent violation has occurred, a determination in a single action, by judgment or settlement, that the covered entity has engaged in more than one discriminatory act shall be counted as a single violation.”
The adjustments will start applying for violations that occur on or after April 28, 2014. With the monetary stakes now raised, businesses should be all the more vigilant to stay in compliance with all Title III requirements.