# 52 III-4.2000 III-4.5000 III-7.

8600

February 25, 1993

Suzanne Lacampagne, Esq. 3705 S. George Mason Drive Falls Church, VA 22041 Dear Ms. Lacampagne: This letter is in response to your request for information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or obligations under the Act. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a determination by the Department of Justice of your rights or responsibilities under the ADA and does not constitute a binding determination by the Department of Justice. You have inquired as to whether it is discriminatory under the ADA for a hotel to refuse to guarantee a room reservation for a wheelchair accessible room when (i) wheelchair accessible rooms are available at the time a reservation is requested, and (ii) the individual requesting the room is willing to guarantee payment for the room with a credit card. Under title III of the ADA the owner or operator of a place of public accommodation, such as a hotel or motel, has an obligation to make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, and procedures, when such modifications are "necessary to afford goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities." The modification to a hotel's reservation procedures to ensure that accessible rooms are available to individuals with disabilities under the cicumstances described above, is the type of modification contemplated by the regulation. The only exception to this obligation arises when the owner of the hotel can

demonstrate that making the modification would "fundamentally alter" the nature of the service or accommodation provided. See section 36.302(a) of this Department's title III regulation, as further discussed on pages 22 and 23 of the title III Technical Assistance Manual (copies enclosed). Illustration 2 on page 22 of the Manual discusses exactly this example. You have also inquired as to whether a hotel that offers a government rate for some of its rooms must also offer a government rate for at least some of its accessible rooms. If a hotel was constructed after the effective date for new construction under the ADA, as set forth in section 36.401 of the title III regulation (generally facilities for which construction began after January 26, 1992, for first occupancy after January 26, 1993), sleeping rooms and suites required to be accessible under the ADA Accessibility Guidelines must be disbursed among the various classes of sleeping accommodations available. See section 9.1.4(1) of the Guidelines, which are attached as Appendix A to the title III regulation. Thus, with respect to new construction, rooms of the type customarily offered at the government rate should be included among those required to meet the standards for full accessibility. With respect to existing facilities, a hotel must make changes to existing facilities to remove barriers (that is, for example, to create accessible guest rooms) when such changes are "readily achievable". The definition of "readily achievable" is found on page 35594 of the title III regulation and discussed on pages 29 through 32 of the title III Manual. If it is not "readily achievable" to make certain changes to existing facilities, a hotel may make its goods and services available through alternative methods, if such alternative methods are "readily achievable". As applied to hotels, this means that if it is not "readily achievable" for a hotel to make a variety of types of sleeping rooms available, it may choose to provide services through an alternative method such as modifying its more expensive rooms and making them available at government or other lower rates when a guest requests a room at such rates. In most cases it will be possible for a hotel to offer its more expensive rooms at the government rate as a "readily achievable" alternative to barrier removal. Finally, you have asked us to identify the remedies available under title III of the ADA. The remedies available under title III depend upon the type of suit being brought. In a

private suit, the available remedies are injunctive relief and attorney's fees, but not damages. If a suit is brought by the Department of Justice under title III, the remedies available are injunctive relief, damages to individuals, and civil penalties or fines. I hope this information is helpful to you. Sincerely,

John L. Wodatch Chief Public Access Section Enclosures (2)