How to Fix Hotel Website for ADA Compliance
Karlin Law Firm LLP has seen a tidal wave of hotel ADA “website” lawsuits. This is occurring in the name of private litigants claiming the websites do not provide enough information about “accessible features” of the hotel. Unlike other hotel guests who would simply call the hotel to ask about features of the hotel that may not appear on a hotel’s website, these ADA plaintiffs sue first and ask questions later.
Unlike ADA website lawsuits that claim a website does not allow the visually impaired to use a program called “JAWS” to translate a website into spoken words, this new wave of ADA Hotel website lawsuits is focused on the content of a Hotel’s website. In particular, these ADA website lawsuits claim a hotel’s website needs to better describe:
(a) the accessible features of the hotel, and
(b) the accessible features of each type of accessible guest room
To help avoid these new content-driven hotel ADA lawsuits, the accessible features of the hotel and guest rooms should be described on the “front end” of the website, e.g. the home page, and also each subpage that deals with the features of the hotel, and sub-page that describes the types of accessible rooms. By contrast, making the description of each of the accessible rooms visible only at the point of booking, after the potential guest enters the date of stay, is not enough according to these lawsuits.
The best way to think about this is by pretending you are a disabled person confined to a wheelchair and you are thinking above visiting a place you always wanted to visit. Before taking the time to book a room at a hotel in the area, you want to quickly see the accessible features of the various hotels in the area, including the accessible features of the common areas, lobby, pool area, parking, in addition to the type of accessible rooms and features of the accessible rooms. You will likely look at the home page, any “features” page and maybe a page that describes the accessible room types. After you see that the hotel has the accessible features you may want, you then think about trying to book one of the accessible room types. Only then will you enter the dates of stay to see what, if any, accessible room types may be available for the particular dates of stay.
Because these hotel ADA website lawsuits are content-driven, the hotel operations manager will often play a role in providing the descriptions of the accessible features of the hotel and of the accessible rooms, working together with the hotel’s webmaster to implement this. Before and after the completion of the revised website, it is always a good idea to have the website reviewed by an experienced attorney knowledgeable about ADA hotel website content. Karlin is one of only a handful of attorneys in the United States that have any knowledge in this area of the law.
Up until now ADA plaintiffs and their lawyers have physical aspects of hotels. Recently, a few ADA plaintiff’s law firms in California started filing these cases on behalf of a band of ADA plaintiffs, who had been mostly suing businesses over parking lot problems. Now some of these ADA plaintiffs do not need to even drive to businesses to find violations. From their home computers, they can try to find hotels to sue.
These new hotel ADA website lawsuits rely on an obscure and rather vague reference in a Department of Justice guideline that stated that hotels should describe in their websites the accessible features of the hotel and hotel rooms. From that simple suggestion, a cottage industry of hotel ADA lawsuits has been born.
As in any litigation, there are legitimate well-founded ADA cases filed by ADA plaintiffs and by their lawyers, but there are also questionable ADA claims and abusive ADA lawsuits that should never have been filed.
The hotel ADA website cases and general ADA website cases that Karlin Law Firm LLP has handled and resolved for our clients include cases filed by ADA lawyers, ADA law firms and their attorneys, Joseph R. Manning Jr., Michael J. Manning, Craig Cote, Babak Hashemi, Peter Kristofer Strojnik, Pacific Trial Attorneys, Scott Ferrell, Beverley Hills Trial Attorneys, Azar Mouzari, and Scott J. Ferrell, Custodio & Dubey, Vineet Dubey, Miguel Custodio, Jr., and plaintiffs including Poupak Barekat, Dona Dugo, Perla Mageno, James Rutherford, and Patricia Filardi, Theresa Brooke, Pamela Hill, and Perla Mageno.
Contact Karlin Law Firm LLP for defense of these ADA website lawsuits.