PHILADELPHIA – An investigation into 25 popular Philadelphia restaurants and their
compliance to accessibility standards outlined in the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 has been launched by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The initiative is in accordance with the U.S. government’s congressionally mandated responsibility to review compliance with the ADA, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. It is not in response to any specific complaint against a restaurant.
“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,” Memeger said.
“The Americans with Disabilities Act is an important civil rights law, and restaurant owners must comply with its accessibility provisions. We will take all reasonable steps within our power to ensure that any restaurants that fall short of compliance make the necessary changes, rather than face litigation.”
As part of the review, restaurant owners are being asked to complete a survey form, supplied by the government, pertaining to their restaurant’s accessibility. Investigators may then conduct on-site inspections to confirm survey responses and to evaluate compliance with federal ADA regulations.
Owners and operators found to be non-compliant will have the option of entering into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement, whereby they voluntarily agree to upgrade their facilities to meet ADA requirements.
Owners and operators found to be engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination, or that fail to enter Voluntary Compliance Agreements, may face a civil lawsuit brought by the government and be subject to penalties, including monetary penalties and civil fines.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says it objectively selected the restaurants using recent third party restaurant rankings in order to review 25 of Philadelphia’s most popular and frequented restaurants.
The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by places of public accommodation, including restaurants, and requires places of public accommodation to be “designed, constructed, and altered in compliance with the accessibility standards established” by the ADA’s implementing regulations.
The restaurants included in the compliance review are the following:
- Brauhaus Schmitz
- Butcher & Singer
- Del Frisco's Double Eagle
- El Vez
- Fogo de Chao
- Max Brenner
- Pub & Kitchen
- South Philadelphia Tap Room
- Talula's Garden
- Vernick Food & Drink
- Village Whiskey
Pennsylvania federal courts do not lack in ADA lawsuits. According to a previous report, between July 1, 2012 and Jan. 1, 2015, 290 ADA non-employment lawsuits were been filed in Pennsylvania federal courts. Those 290 lawsuits nearly double what was filed in the previous 30-month period.