ADA Compliance and the Impact of Hotel Renovations
By Christine Samsel Attorney, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck | September 23, 2018
This article was co-authored by
Co-authored by Jonathan Sandler & Allison L. Gambill, Shareholders, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
For the hospitality industry, navigating the maze of complex requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") can prove to be a daunting task. The risk of being sued for noncompliance has never been higher. Disabled individuals have been pursuing hospitality companies in court for years, asserting a variety of claims related to physical accessibility issues, such as pool lifts, parking lot configurations and guest room features. (For a discussion of the recent trend of lawsuits focusing on website accessibility and reservation policies for accessible rooms, see our prior article, Hospitality Industry Particularly Susceptible to ADA Website Accessibility Lawsuits.
Often, the accessibility issue stems from a misunderstanding on the part of the lodging facility as to the applicable ADA standards; it is sometimes difficult to determine when alterations and renovations made to a facility-or portion of a facility-trigger application of updated ADA standards. Making it more difficult, different aspects of a facility may be subject to different versions of ADA Accessibility Standards.
This article provides guidance on how to determine which Title III ADA standards apply to which portions of the facility, including how renovations may impact compliance requirements. This article addresses federal law; states (such as California) may impose additional accessibility requirements.
Determining Which ADA Standards Apply to Your Facility
In 1991, the Department of Justice published the ADA Title III regulations, which included the 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (the "1991 Standards"). The 1991 Standards outline detailed requirements to ensure that places of public accommodation, including hotels, motels, inns and other lodging facilities, are accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Department of Justice published revised regulations and adopted updated accessibility standards with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (the "2010 Standards"), permitting the 1991 Standards to be applied until March 14, 2012.