By:  Nicholas E. Ma

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently confirmed in Tauscher v. Phoenix Board of Realtors, Inc. that while employers must engage in an “interactive process” with disabled employees to explore possible accommodations, there is no interactive process requirement for public accommodations and services.  By the same token, businesses and entities providing public accommodations cannot discharge the duties they owe to disabled patrons because of a failure to engage in the interactive process.

Title III of the ADA provides that no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.  (42 U.S.C. § 12182(a).)  A public accommodation must furnish “appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities.”  (28 C.F.R. § 36.303(c)(1).)  While “[a] public accommodation should consult with individuals with disabilities whenever possible to determine what type of auxiliary aid is needed to ensure effective communication,” the regulations make clear that “the ultimate decision as to what measures to take rests with the public accommodation, provided that the method chosen results in effective communication.”  (Id. § 36.303(c)(1)(ii).)
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Clarifies the Interactive Process Does Not Apply to Public Accommodations under Title III