The ADA and Entrepreneurial Start-ups


I know that many start-ups don’t consider human resources related laws when they are getting started. They focus on getting their product or service up and running, whether they have the suppliers they need and of course the potential market. If they consider HR at all it is in the realm of payroll. Most federal HR laws don’t kick in until a company has reached 15 employees. The FLSA kicks in at fewer employees if you are bringing revenue of at least a half million dollars. There are however other laws related to HR that you need to pay attention to, as Uber has discovered.

UBER the company government loves to hate

Uber, the darling of the “gig” economy, has been beset with problems with the government. The DOL, the IRS, state governments, unions, the taxi industry, and the limo industry have all had issues with the Uber model. They may have anticipated this, I don’t know I was not there.

One issue I am sure they didn’t anticipate is the problem they would have with the Americans with Disabilities Act, no not with the interactive discussion or accommodation provision, rather the accessibility provisions. This is not really an “employer” issue, it is more of a business issue. Uber has already been sued in California because they were not accessible to people who are visually impaired. They were sued by the National Federation of the Blind under Title III of the ADA, specifically about allowing service animals.


Now Massachusetts has gotten into the fray and has passed a law that, according to attorney Michael Fleischer, puts a “…  prohibition on these companies from discriminating against individuals with disabilities, a requirement that they provide wheelchair accessible vehicles, and a mandate that they provide accommodations to individuals traveling with service animals.”Additionally, “The law also requires ride-sharing companies to have ‘established procedures governing the safe pickup, transfer, and delivery of individuals with visual impairments and individuals who use mobility devices, including … wheelchairs, … walkers, and scooters.’”

Small start-ups need to anticipate

This is just an indication of the kind of thinking that start-ups need to do. They need to anticipate as much as possible. You need to plan for having that first employee, you need to plan for having that 15th employee and you need to consider how specific laws for your industry might impact you.

Don’t get discouraged, but be prepared to handle adversity. Good luck.


Originally published on Omega HR Solutions blog.



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