Jan 25, 2024 - News

DOJ investigates Seattle-area hotels for ADA violations

Illustration of a wheelchair-user at the bottom of very tall stairs.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Three Seattle-area hotels have agreed to make changes, such as creating new accessible rooms or moving non-disabled customers, after the U.S. attorney's office investigated and found violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Why it matters: Hotels and motels must review their properties and reservation systems to ensure people with disabilities can reserve and be appropriately accommodated in rooms that meet their needs, said U.S. Attorney Tessa Gorman.

Driving the news: Over the last year, the Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington has investigated ADA complaints about nine hotels in the Seattle area, three of which have been resolved and six of which are ongoing.

State of play: In each of the three resolved cases, a traveler who was disabled was assigned a room that was not ADA-accessible even though the customer had requested appropriate accommodations, per the Department of Justice.

  • The hotels agreed to create additional ADA-accessible rooms, move non-disabled customers if necessary or help customers find an accessible room in another hotel, per the Department of Justice.
  • The hotels also agreed to be more transparent about what ADA accommodations exist on their websites.
  • All three hotels agreed to notify the Department of Justice about future complaints.

None of the hotels' general managers responded to phone calls seeking comment.

Zoom in: According to the complaints, the MarQueen Hotel on Queen Anne ignored a customer's request for a first-floor room, though the hotel has no elevators.

  • The investigation did not determine whether the hotel had promised a first-floor room to the customer but did find the hotel lacked the required number of rooms to accommodate people with mobility disabilities, per the U.S. attorney's office.
  • Under the resolution, the hotel will provide the U.S. attorney's office with its plan to add rooms for those with mobility disabilities.

The Lynnwood Hampton Inn & Suites resolved a claim that it failed to honor a request for an accessible bathroom from a guest with mobility impairment.

  • Under the terms of the resolution, the hotel will improve the reservation system and employee training.
  • If the hotel has no accessible room for the person who reserved one, it will move a non-disabled customer to provide an ADA room or help the customer find an accessible room at another property, per the U.S. attorney's office.

The Bothell Holiday Inn & Suites failed to have a room with an accessible bathroom for a customer who reserved the room thinking it would accommodate their disability.

  • Because the hotel website did not clearly state whether the accommodation would have an accessible bathroom, the hotel agreed to change its website and employee training, per the U.S. attorney's office.

Of note: Complaints about hotel accessibility or other civil rights violations can be filed with the Department of Justice.

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