Recently, hotels across the nation have been swept up in a tsunami of ADA lawsuits that target hospitality businesses of all sizes. The Trump Administration’s Department of Justice has currently discontinued drafting rules relating to ADA compliance, and current California laws, which allow plaintiffs to receive damages plus attorney fees, have created a perfect storm resulting in serial ADA litigation. There is a wave of legal action where hoteliers are being targeted with what is more often than not, a frivolous lawsuit from a predatory lawyer in search of a financial settlement.
INNsight highly recommends that hospitality owners become well versed in ADA Title III and the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and what it means to their online presence. We have published several articles and conducted many webinars and seminars. Learn more about the law by visiting our education portal at www.innsight.com/education
ALLEGED ADA WEBSITE VIOLATION LAWSUITS
Targeting websites for ADA violations began in 2009. In 2010 the DOJ launched the task of drafting regulations for sites to meet the ADA goals of making online portals equally as accessible to people with disabilities, as brick and mortar businesses. Defending ADA lawsuits can be costly for smaller businesses, and family owned hotels or restaurants.
Most of these lawsuits demand financial 'damages' be paid to the plaintiff on top of the expense of addressing and fixing any alleged offenses. Most hoteliers are hit with settlement demands ranging from $8,000 to over $13,000.
Ignorance of the law is not a defense. We highly recommend that you learn about ADA Title III and understand how the law impacts your hospitality business’s presence online. We have drafted an extensive education article that explains the law clearly which you can read here
“Hoteliers must realize that their property must be ADA compliant. There is no getting around this.”
CALIFORNIA LAWS MAKE ADA LITIGATION LUCRATIVE FOR SERIAL PLAINTIFFS AND THEIR LAWERS
California leads all other states in ADA lawsuits because the current laws have set a $4,000 minimum dollar amount for 'damages' plus attorney fees for each ADA violation. This minimum is very lucrative for the attorney's and serial plaintiffs that are suing hoteliers, restaurants, and just about anyone with a website. Additionally, we have seen a ramp-up in suits originating in Florida, as well.
In the spirit of hospitality, we can all recognize that the implementation of ADA laws that have developed easy and equal access to goods and services both on and offline is wonderful. However, there are those that manipulate these good laws and abuse the system for profit. Increasingly, serial plaintiffs from out of state are filing hundreds of ADA cases in California, and extorting thousands of dollars in 'damages' from hoteliers and others in the hospitality business that find it easier to pay outrageous settlements, than to go to court.
During the first six months of 2018, the federal courts saw almost 5,000 ADA lawsuits. It is predicted that the number of claims will reach upwards of 10,000 by the end of 2018 as a direct effect of current California laws, and a possible side effect of the administration's decision to discontinue drafting any new rules relating to ADA compliance.
HOW CAN INNsight HELP YOUR HOTEL ACHIEVE ADA COMPLIANCE
INNsight is leading the charge in educating hoteliers and other hospitality professionals so that they better understand the complex and confusing ADA Title III Law and how Website Content Accessibility fits into the scope of the ADA. INNsight has developed the technology to help hotels and restaurants achieve ADA Title III compliance, in addition, bringing both franchise and independent hotel websites up to WCAG 2.1 standards for website accessibility thereby further protecting them from suits alleging discrimination of technology towards individuals with audio or visual impairment.
As the hospitality industry's ONLY complete end-to-end digital marketing system, we believe that web design is commoditized. That's why we don't charge for web design, and we don't nickel-and-dime for web accessibility features in the websites that we create: Learn More.
We have seen many website designers scramble to get up to speed to combat this scourge, and many are either misinformed or guide clients incorrectly. You can trust INNsight is the leader in hotel and restaurant digital marketing and ADA Title III Compliance and WCAG 2.1 Level AA coding. We have built many custom features to help make your digital marketing presence even more engaging for individuals with special needs: www.innsight.com/ADA
UNTIL THE LAWS CHANGE TO PROTECT BUSINESSES FROM FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS
In addition to adhering to ADA Title III, we recommend that hoteliers and all other hospitality professionals become proactive, and do the right thing by ensuring that their hospitality websites are up to WCAG 2.1 standards for the comfort and convenience of all guests.
To learn more about online accessibility and how it affects your hotel website visit our education page.
If you would like a complimentary, no-obligation audit of your current website to see if it satisfies the industry standards outlined in ADA Title III and the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Contact INNsight at 415.988.7972 or email: sales@INNsight.com
This article was originally published on INNsight - https://isuite.innsight.com/education/hotel-restaurant-website-ada-lawsuits-on-the-rise