Monday, 21 October, 2019

The Supreme Court Denies Domino's Petition in a Win for Disability Rights

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Russell Knight | 11 October, 2019, 19:12

Instead, the Supreme Court's decision (to not make a decision) has the effect of maintaining the status quo with respect to website accessibility, which varies by jurisdiction and is frustratingly unspecific throughout the United States.

Robles also tried the Domino's app with his iPhone's built-in VoiceOver screen-reading feature but his lawsuit says that the unlabeled buttons found in the app made it nonconforming to Apple's iOS accessibility guidelines. It worked only when a website's graphics had "alt-text", a description of the image that appeared on the screen when a cursor floated over it.

This is a win for disability advocates, who argued in court that without accessibility options, the economy is missing a substantial portion of revenue when they shut out groups of disabled people.

They said they feared a "tsunami of litigation", and anxious that judges nationwide would see the appeals court's decision as "imposing a nationwide website-accessibility mandate".

The case is Domino's Pizza v. Robles. What matters is the "combined means of access to those goods or services", Domino's said, according to Bloomberg.

The pizza chain, backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had asked the Supreme Court to limit the reach of the 1990 landmark disability rights' law - which prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating against people with disabilities.

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A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found previous year that the "alleged inaccessibility of Domino's website and app impedes access to the goods and services of its physical pizza franchises" - a finding that the Supreme Court let stand.

With its order, the high court let stand a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which held in January that Guillermo Robles, a blind man, could sue the national pizza chain under the Americans with Disabilities Act if its website and mobile app did not work with common screen-reading software.

This is not a formal ruling upholding the 9th Circuit decision, and the justices could agree to take up the issue later if lower courts are divided.

By rejecting the appeal, the lower court's decision allowing Robles to move forward with his claims against Domino's remains in place.

Attorneys on behalf of Domino's argued that this significantly extends and expands the ADA for service providers, such as restaurants, into the online world. More than 2,200 lawsuits were filed over website accessibility previous year, nearly 3x the 2017 number.

"ADA litigation has become nearly as universal as apps themselves", the U.S. Chamber of Commerce argued in a brief backing the Domino's appeal.

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