Published on: interviews JMBM’s ADA Defense and Compliance Lawyers

25 February 2012

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Hotel ADA defense and compliance lawyer

It is always a good feeling when someone you respect pays you a nice compliment. That’s what happened yesterday when gave JMBM’s ADA Compliance and Defense Lawyers quite an acknowledgement. Miriam Lamey covers the hotel sector for

Last week Miriam called me for an interview to go over some of the subject Marty Orlick and I have been writing about recently to help the hotel industry understand the meaning and importance of new ADA regulations which will go into effect March 15, 2012. I put her in touch with Marty and here is the interview that ran on February 24, 2012.
Hotels Handle Pool Lift Regulations
from February 24, 2012
Miriam Lamey

SAN FRANCISCO-The Department of Justice gave March 15 as the deadline for all hotel properties to install pool lifts for disabled guests who could not otherwise use the facilities independently. According to the DOJ, these lifts must be fixed, well-maintained, and exclusive to each pool.

Recently, Martin H. Orlilck, an Americans with Disabilities defense lawyer, sat down with’s Miriam Lamey to discuss the impending deadline and how the hotel industry has and will respond to the requirements.

A question and answer session follows: What do you think the new regulations mean for the industry?

Orlick:This requirement for accessible pool lifts is not new. The actual requirement has been around for the past 15 years. There have been advocacy groups and therapeutic practitioners who have been advocating for pool lifts for that long. And there were a lot of things that take a long time: It takes a while for the technology to catch up with the ideology. And so therapists and advocacy groups and individuals were pressing for pool lifts and other types of devices including health and fitness equipment while the technology didn’t exist. And there weren’t the right manufacturers; there were a lot of questions about what the standards should be for this type of device. In 2008,the Department of Justice made it clear that they were going to be developing some guidelines for accessible pools. But up until 2010 when these standards were approved, the only requirement was to [be able to] get someone with a disability to the pool. So what hospitality operators supposed to do after that?

Orlick: Well, that’s the point. But that was the extent of the law: you just needed an accessible path of travel to the pool. Not to get so much into the pool. And for the past number of years, disabled advocacy groups have been complaining about it. Some problems included that there was no way for people to get in or out of the pool, independently or with other assistance. So, an individual [with a disability] would be now paying for the pool that’s built into his or her rates, and they don’t get to use the pool facilities as anyone else would. What was the response?

Orlick: Well, the access board and Department of Justice worked on developing technical standards for a pool lift. And they’ve done that over the last couple of years. Now, the 2010 standards include scoping provisions – in other words, how many pool lifts does a hotel have to have, where they need to be and the technical requirements. Now, scoping requirements and technical requirements are part of 2010 standards. [The latter] define what the lift is supposed to look like, how it is supposed to operate and so on. The seat is supposed to be a certain size, the lift is supposed to drop 18 inches into the water, things like that. What does that mean to the industry?

Orlick: The industry is confused – it’s genuinely confused. It’s confused and I’m getting phone calls every day – every couple of hours! – from operators of hotels who are saying “what do I do?” And their concerns are in part financial, but they are not financially-driven. I don’t believe that. They are more driven to asking, “what does the Department of Justice actually require?” And “what does it mean as far as the operations of my property?”
Currently, the Department of Justice says you have to have fixed pool lifts and you can’t share a pool lift between water elements. At one has to be at each location because one of the main ideas of the Americans with Disabilities Act is to provide independent accessibility so that someone who’s disabled doesn’t have to wait for someone else to help. And so, for example, I as a disabled guest want to go for a swim because I can’t sleep at night. It makes sense that I want to be able to go down to the pool, get in the water and swim around and not have to wait for the 18 year old or the person on night duty help me get in or out of the pool, or in and out of the hot tub – the [hotel workers] are not trained to help someone who is disabled, who may have very specific needs and requirements.

It’s a whole different thing if that same person can go over to the chair lift, slide out of their wheelchair, transfer onto the lift, manually use the controls, swing out over the water, set themselves in and swim. And then when they’re done they can get out again – they don’t have to wait for anyone.

Click here for continuing discussion on

  • What does the DOJ ultimately expect?
  • How serious is this? What impact will it have on developers?
  • What can we expect over the next year?

Other ADA defense and compliance resources

You can access the full library of ADA materials on Hotel Law Blog by going to the home page, selecting the tab at the top that says “HOTEL LAW TOPICS”, and then clicking on “ADA Defense & Compliance” in the drop down menu . . . or by clicking here.

Below is a partial listing of articles by JMBM’s ADA Defense Lawyer team:

The ADA Compliance and Defense Guide — Free Download

ADA Defense Lawyer: New ADA standards for website accessibility

FAQs on “service animal” requirements of the ADA. What every hotelier needs to know. Why Uber was sued over service animals.

Starwood Hotels and The Phoenician get an expensive (and unnecessary) lesson in ADA compliance. 

DOJ sues 3 of NYC’s top Zagat-rated restaurants for ADA violations

Charles Schwab settles claim over website accessibility

A blast against frivolous, serial ADA lawsuits in striking the right balance

New ADA compliance standards for golf courses. What do they mean to you?

How to handle an ADA lawsuit . . . and How not to do it

How a recent ADA case affects all hotels but particularly conference centers and meeting hotels

ADA Defense Lawyer Alert: Hilton’s ADA Settlement with the Department of Justice: Precedent-setting agreement delivers more than removing architectural barriers

When disabled hotel guests’ needs go beyond the norm for typical guests, what do hotel owners and managers have to do?

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.

Defending ADA lawsuits. How your hotel website can make you a target for ADA lawsuits

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