Feds to Scrutinize 25 Popular Philly Eateries for ADA Compliance
Philly restaurant owners beware: The feds might soon be on your doorstep, checking to see if your restaurant is compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Philadelphia announced today it will do an ADA compliance check at 25 of the city’s top restaurants. The restaurants were chosen using “recent third-party restaurant rankings” to identify Philadelphia’s “most popular and frequented restaurants.”
Fran Fulton, manager of independent living services at Liberty Resources, said Philly restaurants are a “mixed bag” when it comes to compliance with the ADA, which requires places of public accommodation to be “designed, constructed, and altered” so that people in wheelchairs can easily enter, exit, and make use of the facilities.
“There are some (restaurants) that are compliant and many that are not,” Fulton said. She added that some locations — particularly in Old City and South Philly — are difficult to modernize. Another obstacle? Rulings by the city’s historic commission that some older buildings can’t be altered without altering their historic character. “That’s ridiculous,” she said. “Access to a building doesn’t change what a building actually is.”
She added: “There’s no reason a person in a wheelchair should have to knock on a door and ask, ‘How do I get into your facility?’ … By not complying [building owners] are breaking the law, but they are also sending a message they don’t want everybody to come in the facility.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it would ask restaurant owners to complete a survey form on their accessibility, after which they might face an on-site inspection. Restaurants that fall short will be asked to enter a voluntary agreement to upgrade their facilities — or else potentially face a lawsuit.
“People with disabilities who visit, work, or live in Philadelphia have the right to expect that all public accommodations in the city are accessible according to law,” United States Attorney Zane David Memeger said in a statement. “The Americans with Disabilities Act is an important civil rights law, and restaurant owners must comply with its accessibility provisions.”
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