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ADA Violations at Hilton Hotels

Reprinted from PN March 2011

A 2010 agreement between Hilton hotels and the U.S. Department of Justice creates better accessibility for travelers with disabilities.

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Travelers with disabilities can look for better accessibility at facilities in a major hotel chain.

In November, 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Hilton Worldwide, Inc., announced a comprehensive, precedent-setting agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that will make state-of-the-art accessibility changes to approximately 900 hotels nationwide. The agreement is in the form of a proposed consent decree filed in federal court to resolve a simultaneously filed lawsuit under ADA.

The complaint alleges Hilton hotels designed and constructed after January 26, 1993, fail to comply with ADA and DOJ regulations. Hilton Worldwide, Inc. (HWI), owns, operates, or has entered into and maintains franchise license agreements for each hotel in the HWI system.

“The ADA protects the right of people with disabilities to stay in accessible hotel rooms, and to reserve those hotel rooms through the same convenient systems as everyone else,” says Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division. “People with disabilities who travel for pleasure or business must be able to count on getting the accessible room they reserved, and the hotel must provide the choice of amenities everyone comes to expect from a major national hotel chain like Hilton.”

The agreement is the result of a lengthy investigation and negotiation. Hilton officials cooperated with DOJ throughout the process. Allegations in the department’s complaint include failure to provide the required number of accessible rooms, and failure to disperse accessible rooms among the various categories of available accommodations, provide people with disabilities the ability to reserve accessible rooms through Hilton’s central reservations system online or by telephone, and to give individuals with disabilities the accessible sleeping accommodations they reserved.

The settlement represents the first time:

- DOJ has required a franchisor to require all franchised or managed hotels that enter into a new franchise or management agreement, experience a change in ownership, or renew or extend a franchise agreement, to survey its facilities and certify the hotel complies with ADA

- An agreement under ADA has specifically detailed how a hotel reservations system should be made accessible

- A hotel chain has been required to make its online reservations system accessible and to provide on its website current data about accessible features in guest rooms throughout the chain

Under the agreement:

- All owned and joint venture hotels built after January 26, 1993, will be surveyed and brought into compliance with DOJ ADA title III regulations, including dispersing accessible rooms among the various classes of available accommodations, providing accessible rooms with roll-in showers and tub seats, and providing accessible rooms for guests with hearing impairments.

- For franchised and managed hotels built after January 26, 1993, where Hilton enters into a new franchise or management agreement, renews or extends an agreement for more than six months, or agrees to a change of ownership, Hilton will require the owners to survey their hotels for compliance with specified provisions of ADA, and where necessary, bring their hotels into compliance.

- Hotels constructed in the future will be required to comply with ADA.

- Specific ADA training will be provided for staff.

- Hilton’s reservations system will be improved so people with disabilities can reserve accessible rooms with specific available options and amenities and have the same opportunity to guarantee a reservation for an accessible room as that offered for any other reservation.

- Hilton will improve the accessibility of its websites.

- Hilton will appoint a national ADA compliance officer responsible for Hilton’s compliance with ADA and the consent decree.

- Hilton will appoint ADA on-site contact persons at each hotel responsible for resolving ADA- related complaints at the local level.

- Hilton will pay a civil penalty of $50,000 to the United States.

To learn more about ADA or this consent decree, call the toll-free ADA Information Line, 800-514-0301 / 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website, www.ada.gov.

 

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ADA Violations at Hilton Hotels

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