Domino’s Pizza, LLC v. Robles, Guillermo, Landmark Digital Accessibility Case

The Domino’s Pizza, LLC v. Robles, Guillermo, Landmark Digital Accessibility Case reached the United States Supreme Court from the Ninth Circuit court decision early this year. Until then many companies have ambiguity on the applicability of American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) to websites and mobile apps. Because the Department of Justice (DOJ) do not have specific regulations for websites and mobile apps, this case had special attention in the accessibility advocates and supporters of people with disabilities.


Background of Domino’s Pizza, LLC v. Robles, Guillermo, case

During 2016, Robles Guillermo a person with blindness reached out to the court. Robles is unable to choose and book his favorite pizza online with his screen reading software. A screen reader is a piece of software that can read aloud the content on the computer or mobile screen. He claimed that it is a direct violation of Title III of American’s With Disabilities Act. The law that was passed in 1990 banns discrimination against people with disabilities.

Domino’s in return claimed that the law only applies to their physical spaces, not for online. Further Domino’s claimed that they have other means of booking the orders such as in store and telephone hotline, so the law is not specific to online sales. A federal court in California dismissed the  class action lawsuit that asserted Domino’s Pizza discriminated against Americans with disabilities on its web and mobile sites. Read the complete judgement at the district court (PDF).

At the Ninth Circuit Court

The  panel  at Ninth Circuit court reversed  the  district  court’s  dismissal  of  an  action under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and  California’s  Unruh  Civil  Rights  Act,  alleging  that  Domino’s Pizza’s website and mobile application were not fully accessible to a blind or visually impaired person.

The  panel  held  that  the  ADA  applied  to  Domino’s  website  and  app  because  the  Act  mandates  that  places  of  public  accommodation,  like  Domino’s,  provide  auxiliary  aids  and  services  to  make  visual  materials  available  to  individuals who are blind.  Even though customers primarily accessed the website and app away from Domino’s physical restaurants,  the  panel  stated  that  the  ADA  applies  to  the  services of a public accommodation, not services in a place of public accommodation.  The panel stated that the website and  app  connected  customers  to  the  goods  and  services  of  Domino’s physical restaurants. Read the full judgement  from Ninth Circuit Court (PDF).

At the United States Supreme Court

Domino’s moved the appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit decision. On October 7th, 2019 the case is showed as “CERTIORARI DENIED.” Or Cert Denied, as it is referred to by lawyers, means the Court will not even consider the case.

This means the ADA cases on the grounds of mobile or web accessibility has shifted from intensive care unit to the normal checkup unit. The hopes for accessibility advocates and disability activists are still alive. The case will be continued in the Federal District court.

What’s Interesting in Domino’s Pizza, LLC v. Robles, Guillermo Case?

Many organizations were arguing about the validity Title 3 of ADA for websites and mobile apps. This decision kept the hopes alive. The accessibility advocates and disability activists can continue challenging the retail websites and mobile apps for inaccessibility.

The organizations instead of paying for the attorneys can spend the funds in making their websites and mobile apps accessible.

Negotiations and discussions can save a lot of money, time  and reputation while legal battles do not.

Further Reading

Few more ADA digital accessibility cases