The Top 5 Ways Hotels Get Served with a Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

By John Mavros Attorney at Law, Partner, Fisher & Phillips, LLP | September 30, 2018

Co-authored by Lauren Stockunas, Attorney, Fisher & Phillips LLP

To establish a claim of disability discrimination, an employee must prove that he/she is disabled, was performing his/her job competently, suffered an adverse employment action (i.e. termination, demotion, failure to hire, transfer, discipline) and the termination, for example, occurred under circumstances suggesting a discriminatory motive.

If the employee is successful in asserting these elements, then the hotel must rebut the employee's claims with legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for the challenged employment actions.  Therefore, the key to defending a disability discrimination claim is proving that the hotel terminated the employee for a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason.  This means that the hotel needs to ensure that it understands its obligations under the various leave laws and train managers to enable them to effectively communicate with employees and gather needed documentation. 

Maintaining written policies, memorializing any verbal communications with employees, documenting analyses of possible accommodations, and recording any accommodations or leaves of absences ultimately provided are essential steps for avoiding costly litigation.  Below is an analysis of the top five ways hotels get served with disability discrimination lawsuits when they fail to be both proactive and reactive in openly communicating with employees and creating a paper trail.

1.  Not Having Appropriate Employment Policies Addressing Leaves of Absences, Including FMLA, ADA, and/or Sick Leave Where Applicable

The first step is to have clear documented policies addressing leaves of absences, including the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), medical leave of absences generally, and/or paid sick leave when applicable.  Drafting comprehensive policies has two primary benefits:  (1) they serve as a reference for both supervisors and employees; and (2) they serve as essential documentary evidence to defend against employee claims and/or litigation. 

Choose a Social Network!

The social network you are looking for is not available.

Close

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

David Lund
Paolo Boni
Brandon Dennis
Andy Dolce
Julio Perez
Brian Mitchell
Brian West
Peter Anderson
Michael Koethner
Jamie Womack
Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.