We are all very aware of the risks that can affect our biggest marketing and public relations channel – our company website. We tend to only focus on the most prevalent risks when it comes to our websites, whether it be malware, security risks, corrupted files, or lack of firewalls (the list could go on). And most companies purchase employee practices liability (EPL) coverage to protect against discrimination or sexual harassment or wrongful termination.
But there is a little-known risk at the intersection of company websites and employee practices liability (EPL) insurance that could have huge implications for your business.
Did you know your custom, responsive, company website could be discriminatory, and that can put your company at risk of being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? That’s exactly what can happen when your website is not accessible to the visually or hearing impaired.
Title III of the ADA prohibits business owners from discriminating against disabled individuals and requires they be provided full and equal enjoyment of products and services – which includes your company website. If you have a website that is not accessible, you’re at risk of being sued, and the cost of claims filed against your business can be significant.
When re-designing your company website, it is important to consider technology that can assist in making your website more accessible, like a tool that can read the text of a website and describe images aloud for the visually impaired. It is also imperative to consider closed captioning on all videos you use on your website to make content accessible to the hearing impaired.
Without considering tools like these, you put your company at risk when it comes to both your company’s bottom line and reputation. If a claim is filed against your business, you’ll incur legal fees responding to the lawsuit, be forced to update your website in accordance with ADA, have to pay the claimants attorney fees, and even have to settle for what could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
The cost of discrimination could also have long-lasting implications for your business’s reputation in the marketplace. You’d face a PR nightmare should the media learn that your organization is being sued for discrimination, not to mention the damage it could do to your brand and recruitment strategy.
In the end, when considering your company website, you should take all necessary steps to ensure accessibility and avoid the cost to your reputation and bottom line. You can also transfer this risk by purchasing EPL coverage that covers third parties, which will cover defense costs, plaintiff fees, and settlements.
Not sure where to start to make sure your website complies with ADA? Download these 10 Tips for ADA Website Compliance!