In the United States, businesses are required to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. Hotels are just one type of business that deals with the public that has been significantly impacted by the ADA. “Hotels” covers all places of lodging including large and small hotels, inns, motels, and even small bed and breakfast establishments (B&B), for a B&B with five or fewer rooms and where the owner resides at the B&B).
One such case was against a hotel expanding its facilities for ADA compliance. The hotel was investigated by the Department of Justice in 2018 due to a wheelchair-bound guest’s complaint. It had one room suitable for people in wheelchairs, but that room was occupied the day the man was set to stay there. The recent settlement ends the matter. Based on the agreement, the man will receive $4,000. The hotel will also make structural changes to be in full ADA compliance. There will be 30 months from Feb. 21 to put the changes in place.
The hotel decided on its own to settle the case without admitting guilt. All hotels constructed or which were remodeled after March 2012 are required to have a minimum number of rooms with access for wheelchair-bound patrons. It should be noted that aggressive ADA plaintiff’s lawyers often argue that the slighted change at the hotel constitutes a “remodel” triggering these higher requirements. In the case of room numbers (which is only one aspect of hotel ADA compliance), the number is based on size and occupancy. In this particular hotel there were 240 rooms, so based on this agreement, it was agreed that 10 rooms would be accessible; three must have a shower that is wheelchair-accessible. The front counter must also be accessible, and there will be greater transparency with room reservations.
The hotel argued that its one accessible room complied with the law because it had been built in 1974 before the ADA rules went into effect. It is important to note that the investigation did not conclude that the hotel had violated the law. Complaints about hotel accessibility and ADA violations are common. Ownership must be aware of the law and comply with it, but there are also defenses against unfounded complaints. A law firm experienced with ADA hotel lawsuits may help with a defense.