“Life goes pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around every now and then, you might miss it.
This is a quote from Ferris bueller, but these days the sentiment also applies to the United States Disability Act (“ADA”) Title III litigation in Florida. Just a few months ago, I posted on ADA Title III Website Accessibility Trial and make your website accessible to the visually impaired. Now the Plaintiff’s Law Society has moved on to the next wave of ADA Title III litigation.
The latest trend is ADA Title III litigation focused on hotel websites and this type of litigation combines elements of the past ADA Title III litigation in that it deals with the physical space of the hotel (ADA accessible rooms). ) as well as how these chambers are described. about the hotel’s reservation system (which often, if not always includes a website) and how rooms are booked and reserved for guests.
These cases are brought under 28 CFR 36.302 (e) providing:
“(1) Reservations made by the accommodation. A public establishment which owns, rents (or rents from) or operates a place of accommodation must, with regard to reservations made by any means, including by telephone, in person or through a third party –
(i) Modify its policies, practices or procedures to ensure that persons with disabilities can reserve accessible rooms at the same times and in the same manner as those who do not require accessible rooms;
(ii) Identify and describe the accessible features in the hotels and guesthouses offered by its reservation service in sufficient detail to reasonably enable persons with disabilities to independently assess whether a given hotel or room meets their requirements. accessibility needs;
(iii) Ensure that accessible rooms are reserved for persons with disabilities until all other such rooms have been rented and the requested accessible room is the only remaining room of this type;
(iv) reserve, upon request, accessible rooms or specific room types and ensure that requested rooms are blocked and removed from all reservation systems; and
(v) Ensure that the specific accessible room reserved through its reservation service is reserved for the reserving customer, whether or not a specific room is reserved in response to reservations made by others.
(2) Exception. The requirements of paragraphs (iii), (iv) and (v) of this section do not apply to reservations of individual rooms or other units that are not owned or substantially controlled by the entity that owns, rents or operates all the facilities.
(3) Date of compliance. The requirements in this section will apply to reservations made on or after March 15, 2012.
Currently, although these regulations came into effect in 2012, there is little case law interpreting how these regulations will be applied to hotels and other vacation rental facilities that are considered public accommodation. As such, best practices would force hotels to follow regulations as written.
It’s also worth noting that plaintiffs’ attorneys will likely end up suing individual units rented by owners on a VRBO or Air BnB-like platform. Individual units are not exempt from the obligations set out in subsections (i) and (ii).