If you have been unable to enter or park near the entrance of a store, stay at a hotel or dine in a restaurant because the facility did not accommodate your needs, or you have found yourself in a resort that allegedly offers access to those with disabilities, only to find that you can’t maneuver through your room, reach the towels, or use the swimming pool, you might have a legal remedy under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to force those offending business to comply with ADA.
The ADA, enacted in 1990, requires public places, like stores, hotels, resorts and restaurants to provide accommodations to customers and guests with a multitude of disabilities including those with limited mobility, who have hearing or speech disabilities, and for the blind or visually impaired. It requires those public places to provide disabled customers with access to rooms, bathrooms, and of course, the building itself. Public accommodations must also be provided to parking lots, sidewalks, check-in counters, concierge desks, gift shops, and the like. Gym facilities, spas, pools, etc. must also be accessible. The law also provides that things inside of each of these areas be accessible including shelves, doors, hooks, closets, etc.
To comply with the ADA, the law also requires that access for those with disabilities not be separated from other access. However, there are differences defined by the date of the construction of the building. Generally, with a few exceptions, any facility constructed for first occupancy after January 26, 1993 must fully comply with the ADA. Any building constructed and occupied before January 26, 1992 must remove barriers if it is “readily achievable.” That standard varies according to location, difficulty, expense, etc. The ADA also addresses modifications and renovations to existing buildings.
Recently, there have been numerous lawsuits for violations of the ADA filed by the Department of Justice, as well as private lawsuits. These include suits have been filed against major hotel chains such as the Omni Hotel, Marriott, and Ritz Carlton. In most successful cases, the defendant is required pays the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees. This provides access to the court system to those who might not otherwise have been able to afford to bring a lawsuit.
If you believe you have been a victim of an establishment’s failure to comply with the ADA, please contact a GSP attorney to learn more about your rights. Please contact Mark Goldman at [email protected], Brian Penny at [email protected], or Paul Scarlato at [email protected] or call (484) 342-0700 with any questions you may have.