After more than two years of deliberation, the Eleventh Circuit issued its decision in Gil v. Winn-Dixie on April 7, 2021.  Writing for the majority, Judge Elizabeth Branch reversed a trial court decision and found that Winn-Dixie’s website, which is incompatible with screen reading software used by the plaintiff, who is blind, did not violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  In doing so, the court’s opinion in this closely-watched case advances the law in several frequently litigated issues in ADA Title III website accessibility disputes.

The Appellate Court’s Opinion

The Eleventh Circuit’s decision includes two key takeaways: (1) that websites are not “places of public accommodation” under the ADA; and (2) a rejection of the “nexus” standard, notably adopted by the Ninth Circuit.  In what it described as a strict textual reading of the ADA, the majority concluded that the retailer’s website was not a “place of public accommodation” within the meaning of the ADA.  Judge Branch emphasized that the statute includes an “expansive list” of examples of public accommodations—all of which are physical locations, not websites.  The court further reasoned that the website’s functionality did not interfere with the plaintiff’s right to “full and equal enjoyment” of a place of public accommodation, because he had visited its physical locations on many occasions.

The majority also rejected the plaintiff’s theory that the grocery store violated the ADA because its website was a “nexus” to its physical locations, and thus must be accessible to people with disabilities.  Among other courts, the Ninth Circuit adopted the “nexus” theory in its widely-publicized 2019 opinion in  Robles v. Domino’s.

The Eleventh Circuit also rejected the plaintiff’s alternative theory of liability under the ADA.  Gil argued that the website’s inaccessibility created an “intangible barrier” to the goods and services at the brick-and-mortar store.  The court rejected this claim, focusing on the fact that the website had “limited use” and was not the sole access point to the store.  Language in the majority opinion supports a relatively narrow interpretation of the statutory “auxiliary service” issue that is frequently litigated in ADA Title III cases.  See 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(i)-(ii).

Penning a dissent as long as the majority’s opinion, Judge Jill Pryor explained, “[t]he ADA is a sweeping piece of legislation; it is hardly surprising that its terms prohibiting discrimination are broad and inclusive.”  By narrowing the applicability of the ADA, Judge Pryor worried about the unintended consequences.  “As I read it, the majority opinion gives stores and restaurants license to provide websites and apps that are inaccessible to visually-impaired customers so long as those customers can access an inferior version of these public accommodations’ offerings.”
Continue Reading Website Wars: Eleventh Circuit Rules in a Split Decision That Websites are Not Public Accommodations for Purposes of the Americans With Disabilities Act

California Governor Newsom signed into law a new bill, SB 95, that provides for up to 80 new hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to covered employees. The law applies to all businesses with more than 25 employees, and goes into effect on March 29 through September 30, 2021. SB 95 retroactively applies

The New York State legislature recently passed a bill (S2588A/A3354B), signed into law by Governor Cuomo on March 12, 2021, which amends the New York Labor Law and Civil Service Law to grant private and public employees paid leave time for the COVID-19 vaccination. The law is effective March 12, 2021 and will


Continue Reading UK and Canada Announce New Measures to Combat Forced Labor and Human Rights Violations

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) came into force on July 1, 2020. Included in the USMCA are stronger labor provisions Congressional Democrats demanded, with the support of the Trump Administration, that were approved on a bipartisan basis during consideration of the USMCA implementing legislation in late 2019. The stronger labor provisions helped secure the support

On December 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) updated its guidance regarding how long an individual must quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19. While the CDC continues to endorse a quarantine period of 14 days after last exposure, it has now provided two additional options for how long quarantine should last. Based on the availability of COVID-19 testing, individuals without symptoms can shorten their quarantine period to 10 days after exposure or to 7 days after receiving a negative test result. Individuals can take either the PCR or antigen test up to 48 hours before the seventh day of the last exposure. This means that individuals can take a PCR or antigen test on the fifth day after exposure but they must quarantine for at least 7 days regardless of when they receive the negative test result. If they do not receive their test result within the 7 day period, they cannot discontinue quarantine until the receipt of a negative test result. After discontinuing quarantine, individuals should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 until 14 days have passed since their last exposure. If symptoms are present before the end of the 14 day period, individuals must immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health authority or healthcare provider. Individuals who test positive on the seventh day but have no symptoms must self-isolate for an additional 10 days after the last test. Individuals who develop symptoms after testing positive must self-isolate until all of the following conditions have been met: (1) at least 10 days have passed since the individual’s symptoms first appeared, (2) the individual has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and (3) there has been improvement in the individual’s other symptoms.


Continue Reading CDC Updates Its Guidance for Necessary Quarantine Period

The new United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), became effective on July 1, 2020. Historically, free trade agreements like the NAFTA have been criticized for their lack of strong labor provisions to address low wages and inadequate labor standards that advocates argue support worker rights and improve economic growth in developing countries. The USMCA seeks to address those concerns. In fact, as a precondition to the passage of the USMCA, the U.S. Congress reopened the negotiations at the end of 2019 and amended the agreement to bolster Mexican workers’ rights and to include stronger enforcement provisions like the Rapid Response Mechanism to hold companies in Mexico accountable for violating the rights of free association and collective bargaining.

What is the Rapid Response Mechanism?

The Rapid Response Mechanism is perhaps the most novel aspect of the labor provisions of the USMCA. It applies between the U.S. and Mexico, and between Canada and Mexico, but not between the U.S. and Canada. Within the U.S., the Rapid Response Mechanism can be triggered when any person in the U.S. files a petition claiming the “denial of rights” at a “covered facility” in a “priority sector” in Mexico to the Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement (“Interagency Labor Committee”), co-chaired by the U.S. Trade Representative and the Secretary of Labor. The Interagency Labor Committee can request that Mexico conduct a review to determine whether there is indeed a denial of rights, or. If Mexico does not agree to conduct a review, the Interagency Labor Committee may request a panel to be convened to conduct its own verification under the USMCA.


Continue Reading Labor Provisions of the USMCA: What Multinational Employers Should Know

Doctor's hands in protection gloves holds Testing Kit for the coronavirus testThe EEOC today updated its online guidance regarding COVID-19 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA), stating that employers may now test their employees for the presence of the COVID-19 virus before entering the workplace. The EEOC had previously stated that employers could monitor their employees’ body temperatures consistent with the ADA’s direct threat

On April 8, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Interim Guidance for implementing safety practices for critical infrastructure workers who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The CDC advises that these workers (which include both employees and contractors) may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure provided that they remain

With the current health emergency retailers face unprecedented issues. Closing stores, limiting hours, changing order patterns, remote work — all of these issues have joined basic survival as retailers contend with sudden and unpredictable challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. And while retailers are most likely not liable for any legal exposure, there are legal and