RELIEF FOR ONLINE BUSINESSES « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


California Court: Disabled Cannot Sue for Unintentional Access Discrimination

In recent years, disability discrimination suits have skyrocketed from the visually impaired alleging online businesses deprive their access for lack of special reader features.

In a win for such targeted companies, an appeals court has ruled against the blind plaintiff in Martinez v. Cot’n Wash, Inc, finding Cot’n Wash’s website did not violate California’s Unruh Act because (a) any lack-of-access features was unintentional; and (b) the federal Americans with Disability Act did not apply to online-only enterprises.

Disabled persons are entitled to be free from discrimination. Unfortunately, however, a few mercenary plaintiffs’ law firms have attempted to unreasonably extend this legitimate protection by filing dozens of suits against companies for persons who often never would have sought online patronage of those companies but for their desired plaintiff status.

While the Martinez decision eventually could be reversed by a higher court, for now California online-only businesses not engaged in deliberate discrimination against disabled users have a viable defense against such claims.


  • Using the latest version of Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), company web designers should build in features that accommodate disabled public access.  Subscription to compliance vendors such as accessiBe can enable page-by-page icons for such access features and regular updates; and
  • Companies facing legal demands to rectify website accessibility should engage skilled lawyers familiar with these ongoing issues.

For further information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

See also:

Helena Kobrin
Tim Bowles
August 23, 2022

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