By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hotel Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
14 January 2013
Hotel ADA Defense & Compliance Lawyer with some tips on what you should do now.
January 31, 2013 is fast approaching and once again our phones are ringing off the hook and the emails are streaming in. Our hospitality clients want to know the latest action being taken by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) on the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for pool lifts at pools and spas at hotels, resorts, country clubs, golf and tennis facilities and other places of “public accommodation.”
So here is where things stand.
The pool lift controversy continues to make a splash,
but is it a diversion from enterprise-wide ADA compliance?
The latest update is that the DOJ has not yet further delayed the January 31, 2013 implementation date.
The DOJ stunned both the hospitality industry and pool manufacturers when it proclaimed that only “fixed” or permanent pool lifts would comply with the new 2010 ADAAG Standards (effective March 21, 2012) to the extent “readily achievable.” Portable pool lifts installed on an as needed basis are prohibited unless it is not readily achievable, in which event a portable lift may be used if it is properly anchored.
Due to the efforts of industry groups like American Hotel & Lodging Association and pool and spa organizations, the DOJ postponed the pool lift effective date from March 21, 2012 to January 31, 2013.
The DOJ’s published position is that pool lifts need to be available at each pool and spa (although only one lift is required at a “cluster” of spas) during all pool and spa operating hours. The DOJ has mandated that only “fixed” pool lifts may be installed at each location unless the business can establish that such installation is not “readily achievable.” In such event, a portable pool lift may be permitted if it is properly secured and in place during operating hours.
All indications are that the DOJ remains intransigent that the pool lift requirement will be enforced on January 31, 2013 and pool lifts must be “fixed” to the extent readily achievable. A determination of what is “readily achievable” requires a legal opinion based on the facts of each case.
The ADA pool lift requirement — Situation summary
In September 2012, the DOJ announced it would extend the fixed pool lift requirement to January 31, 2013. Since then, the pool lift controversy has drawn little public attention, until now. Industry groups continue to work with legislators and DOJ officials to provide a greater degree of certainty and “real world” practicality to the pool lift controversy. Those close to the source believe that the DOJ will affirm the implementation date and its position that fixed pool lifts are required where readily achievable. The pool lift train left the station and those in the know believe the DOJ and disabled advocacy groups will enforce the “fixed” pool lift requirement January 31, 2013. We know of several lawsuits filed over the lack of pool lifts after March 21, 2012. We also know of a number of plaintiff’s lawyers who have been waiting for February 1, 2013 to make their splash into pool lift accessibility litigation.
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