1 March 2009
ADA defense and compliance advice from Hotel Lawyers: An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is an important federal law applicable to all hotels in the United States because they are places of “public accommodation.” And just as the federal Civil Rights Act became a powerful instrument to prevent discrimination by hotels, the ADA is now assuming commanding importance in eliminating “barriers” to the use and enjoyment of hotels, restaurants and other facilities governed by the act.
In tough economic times, we all want to slash “unnecessary” expenses, but the costs of a proactive ADA compliance program deserve a more “critical” rating than many have given it up to now. And as the saying goes, you can pay a dollar for prevention today or many times that amount tomorrow in defending litigation and meeting a higher standard after your operation has been put under a plaintiff’s microscope. The Department of Justice’s recent ADA sweeps in New York City, and the rising tide of private ADA lawsuits filed against hotel owners are compelling proof.
We predict more DOJ sweeps and enforcement action in U.S. cities in 2009 and 2010, and significantly increased enforcement efforts by private “true believer” zealots and blackmail artists as well.
How can anyone suggest spending money on ADA today unless you “have” to?
Notwithstanding survival-style budget slashing everywhere, we suggest that a proactive ADA prevention approach is a critically necessary expense. What if a doctor reviewed your health scan tests and said: “You have a very high risk of heart attack in the near future unless you do something immediately.” And what if medical science had advanced to the point that by paying $1,000 for a simple procedure or pill, you would have a 80-90% chance of avoiding the heart attack altogether. You might not want to spend $1,000 now, but most people would rather do that than suffer the risk of the heart attack and expense of the problem later.
In other words: “You can’t afford not to do it!”
ADA compliance is very much the same.
Cost effective steps that can bring you into “good enough” compliance? The 80-20 rule.
With the practical experience gained over the past decade in handling more than 300 ADA cases, we have real time experience in the field, seeing what conditions and issues create the most trouble for hotels, restaurants and other facilities. We have seen how the same red flags are sure to catch attention. We have a broad experience and litigation-tested sense of as to what cost effective steps can bring you into “good enough” compliance to get you through most situations.
. . .you can pay a dollar for prevention today or many times that amount tomorrow in defending litigation and meeting a higher standard after your operation has been put under a plaintiff’s microscope.
By having experts inspect your facility BEFORE the private litigants or government become ‘interested” in your property, we find that a corollary of the 80-20 rule applies. This means that for something like 80% of the problems (the high-profile, red-flag items that usually catch attention) can be mitigated for something like 20% of the cost that would otherwise be involved once your property is under the scrutiny of a private plaintiff or the government in a litigation track.
Can you afford NOT to pay pennies today to save big dollars tomorrow?
A quick review on how ADA enforcement has taken on new prominence.
Considering that the Department of Justice started major ADA compliance sweeps under the conservative Bush Administration, we foresee activity stepping up to an entirely new level under President Obama. We think that this will be a sea change, not unlike the Kennedy and Johnson administrations stepping up civil rights enforcements. See Hospitality Lawyers: ADA Sweeps by U.S. Department of Justice — Coming to a theater district or Hotel near you soon? How to get ready before it’s too late.
You also need to remember that the ADA provides for enforcement by private litigants, and they have become extremely active on everything from “drive by” checks on parking lots and other exterior barriers, to web “surf bys”, swimming pool and a seemingly endless array of issues. As noted earlier, the plaintiffs or their counsel are often disabled persons who are on a mission to make the world equally accessible to all disabled people, whatever the cost or practicality.
Other articles on ADA
If you found this article of interest, you may want to check out some of the other articles on this topic on www.HotelLawBlog.com which can all be found under the “HOTEL LAW TOPIC” of “ADA” at the top of the home page (or by clicking here). The following are titles and links to some of those articles:
- ADA Compliance and Defense Lawyer: Starwood Hotels and The Phoenician get an expensive (and unnecessary) lesson in ADA compliance. Who’s next?
- A blast against frivolous, serial ADA lawsuits in striking the right balance
- Hospitality Lawyers: ADA Sweeps by U.S. Department of Justice — Coming to a theater district or Hotel near you soon? How to get ready before it’s too late.
- Hotel Lawyers: Americans with Disabilities Act — How recent ADA developments can affect your hotel. Are you ready for a class action ADA lawsuit because of your hotel website?
- Hospitality Lawyer with urgent ADA warning: You won’t believe what they want to do with ADA now
- Hospitality Lawyers: Defending ADA lawsuits. How your hotel website can make you a target for ADA lawsuits
- Hotel Lawyer: How hotel swimming pools may spawn ADA lawsuits and what to do about it.
- Hospitality Lawyer — Who’s crying “Woof”? What you must know about the ADA requirements for disabled guests and their service animals
- Hospitality Lawyer — Landmark ADA case could provide relief for California hotels.
- Hospitality Lawyer: ADA Update — Federal Courts Denying Plaintiffs’ Attorneys’ Fees
- Hospitality Lawyer: Big ADA Changes Coming to Hotels
- Hotel & Timeshare Lawyer: Does the timeshare exit strategy or repositioning your property create ADA problems?
This is Jim Butler, author of www.HotelLawBlog.com and hotel lawyer, signing off. We’ve done more than $50 billion of hotel transactions and more than 100 hotel mixed-used deals in the last 5 years alone. Who’s your hotel lawyer?
Our Perspective. We represent developers, owners and lenders. We have helped our clients as business and legal advisors on more than $50 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 1,000 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at email@example.com or 310.201.3526.
Jim Butler is one of the top hospitality attorneys in the world. GOOGLE “hotel lawyer” or “hotel mixed-use” or “condo hotel lawyer” and you will see why.
Jim devotes 100% of his practice to hospitality, representing hotel owners, developers and lenders. Jim leads JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® — a team of 50 seasoned professionals with more than $50 billion of hotel transactional experience, involving more than 1,000 properties located around the globe. In the last 5 years alone, Jim and his team have assisted clients with more than 100 hotel mixed-use projects — frequently integrated with energizing lifestyle elements.
Jim and his team are more than “just” great hotel lawyers. They are also hospitality consultants and business advisors. They are deal makers. They can help find the right operator or capital provider. They know who to call and how to reach them.