Hotels, Inns, and other “places of lodging” may face discrimination lawsuits if their websites are not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The particular requirement of Hotels and places of lodging is unique, and intimate knowledge of the Federal regulations set forth by the Department of Justice is a must. Web developers often focus on the wrong set of standards, such as the WCAG, and do not know about the particular regulations that govern Hotels and Lodging websites under the ADA.
The largest number of Hotel and Lodging website lawsuits are being filed in California, New York, and Florida, as well as many other states. One woman in Florida filed six lawsuits in Maine after she claimed that there was not enough information on accommodation websites about accessible features. She also said that accessible rooms were not identified and that there was no way to book them. The lawsuits describe her as a “tester” making sure that her civil rights are upheld.
Many lawsuits filed
The woman used third-party booking sites and the websites of the accommodations themselves but did not visit the properties. The lawsuits say she uses a cane, struggles to grip things, and is visually impaired. She has filed hundreds of similar lawsuits in around 15 states. A managing partner at one property that was sued said that she would ensure that their accessible rooms were on the website and that staff was trained to assist disabled guests. She stressed the importance of communicating with people who had disabilities.
The responsibilities of hotels and places of lodging
An attorney defending properties in Massachusetts and New York argued that the woman is suing said that the ADA, passed in 1990, has not provided adequate guidelines to properties regarding their responsibilities for online reservations systems. The woman’s attorney says that it takes a lawsuit to get businesses and organizations to comply with the ADA. The executive director of Disability Rights Maine expressed her concern about the lawsuits being legitimate and not frivolous since she said the latter can work against disabled people.
An ADA-related lawsuit can be costly and stressful for a business, and a company that is facing a lawsuit may want to consult an attorney to determine how to best respond. An accusation of violating the ADA can be about ADA website law, or it can be about accessibility to the physical premises. There may be situations in which it is possible to demonstrate that no violations occurred, and there may be others in which a solution can be found that has a reasonable cost and is satisfactory to all parties.