Academic journal article Southern Law Journal

Americans with Disabilities Act and E-Commerce: Target Corporation and Beyond

Academic journal article Southern Law Journal

Americans with Disabilities Act and E-Commerce: Target Corporation and Beyond

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law in 1990. At the time of enactment, Congress stated in its findings that forty-three million Americans "have one or more physical or mental disabilities, and this number is increasing as the population as a whole is growing older."1 The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) cites studies on visual impairment and blindness that reflect estimates of one million American adults older than the age of forty as blind, and 2.4 million as visually impaired.2 The studies also indicate that only forty-six percent of working-age adults with vision impairments and thirtytwo percent of legally blind working-age adults are employed.3 President George W. Bush began a New Freedom Initiative for disabled Americans in 2001 and made clear the Administration's commitment to enforcement of the ADA.4 The Department of Justice5 and EEOC6 have been rigorously enforcing provisions of the ADA. As part of the New Freedom Initiative, federal agencies are implementing and promoting website accessibility.7 In 2007, the Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act of 2007 was introduced in both the Congress and the Senate as House Resolution 3 1 958 and Senate Bill 1881,9 respectively. With bipartisan support and after considerable joint legislative activity, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (AD AAA 2008) was introduced in the Senate on July 31, 2008, for final enactment as S. 3406. 10 In the AD AAA 2008, Congress makes clear that it is shoring up its intent for broad coverage under the ADA.11 More particularly, Congress is moving to ameliorate the narrowing effects of the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in Sutton v. United Air Lines, Inc. (1999) (impaired vision applicants not disabled with corrective lenses - disability is determined in its mitigated or corrected state),12 Murphy v. United Parcel Service, Inc. (1999) (applied Sutton - medicated high blood pressure did not substantially limit major life activity),13 Albertson's, Inc. v. Kirkingburg (1999) (truck driver with monocular vision not per se disabled - must prove extent of limitations on case-by-case basis),14 and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams (2002) (disability determination focuses on tasks central to most people's daily lives).15 The ADAAA 2008 became law on September 25, 2008, effective January 1, 2009. 16 These are but a few of the signs of the times reflecting the momentous evolutionary trends and impact of this civil rights law for e-commerce and employment, particularly visually impaired or blind individuals.

II. NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND V. TARGET CORPORATION

The case oí National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corp.11 was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, on March 9, 2006, after initially having been filed in California state court. The case was removed to federal court on the motion of Defendant, Target Corp.18 The suit sought to protect the rights of all legally blind individuals in the United States regarding their ability to access websites of public, commercial, establishments.19 The lawsuit asserted causes of action under applicable California antidiscrimination laws, together with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.20

The Plaintiff, National Federation of the Blind (NFB), is a national nonprofit advocacy organization, whose purpose is to (1) assist the blind in their efforts to integrate themselves into society on terms of equality and (2) remove barriers and change social attitudes, stereotypes, and mistaken beliefs that sighted and blind persons hold concerning the limitations created by blindness and that result in the denial of opportunity to blind persons in virtually every sphere of life.21 NFB has affiliate chapters in all fifty states with more than fifty thousand members.22 NFB is particularly focused on assisting its members in being able to access and use the fast developing technologies available in our society today. …

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