Is your favorite beach resort ADA compliant? It should be.
The Beachcomber Resort Motel Condominium Association ("Beachcomber Association") is the owner/operator of the Beachcomber Resort located at 7900 Dune Drive, Avalon, New Jersey. In 2017, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey, a component of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), opened an investigation of the Beachcomber Resort upon the receipt of a complaint from an individual who alleged that portions of the Beachcomber Resort were not accessible. Turns out the complaint was valid.
The DOJ alleged that portions of the Beachcomber Resort were altered after January 26, 1992, and those portions should have been altered in such a manner that they are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, to the maximum extent feasible, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Included in the complaint was the front and rear parking areas, the entrance to the facility, the registration counter in the lobby, numerous issues in the pool area, and unisex toilet room issues. Regarding policies and procedures, not all of the accessible features within the Beachcomber Resort were maintained in operable working condition and there was no adequate written policy that welcomed persons with disabilities accompanied by service animals. All these discrepancies had to be addressed as a result of this inspection and settlement.
The Beachcomber Association was also required to train all present and future staff who work at the hotel on any ADA issues relevant to their position at the Beachcomber Resort, including but not limited to: (1) location and type of guest rooms; (2) the location of all accessible public restrooms and accessible routes to each throughout the hotel, where all routes are not accessible; (3) location and use of accessibility equipment (e.g., portable kits containing TDD machines, visual alarms and notification devices, etc.); (4) all of the Beachcomber Resort's reservation policies and other policies regarding visitors with disabilities or accessible features; (5) maintenance of accessibility equipment and routes; (6) the Beachcomber Resort's service animal policy; and (7) all other requirements of this agreement. Furthermore, the Beachcomber Association was required to ensure that all present employees of the Beachcomber Resort are trained in ADA issues no later than sixty days after the effective date of this agreement, that future employees of the Beachcomber Resort are trained in these issues within fourteen days of their first date of employment, and that employees of the Beachcomber Resort are trained on an annual basis at a date and time selected by the Beachcomber Association in its sole discretion.
Regarding implementation and enforcement of this agreement, it was agreed that the DOJ may review compliance with this agreement at any time. Upon reasonable advance notice to the Beachcomber Association (through undersigned counsel), the Beachcomber Association shall permit the DOJ and any person acting on its behalf unlimited access to the Beachcomber Resort to review compliance with the agreement, provided that such access does not interfere with the comfort, privacy or safety of the guests at the Beachcomber Resort, or unreasonably interfere with the management and operation of the Beachcomber Resort.
If the DOJ believes that this agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it agrees to notify the Beachcomber Association in writing of the specific violation(s) alleged. The Beachcomber Association shall have thirty (30) days from its receipt of the notice to cure and/or respond in writing to the DOJ regarding the alleged violation(s). If, after further discussion with the Beachcomber Association, the DOJ believes that the Beachcomber Association has violated the agreement, the DOJ may institute a civil action for relief in federal district court, and the DOJ is authorized to seek civil penalties for any violation of this agreement, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §12188(b)(2)(C).
One year after the effective date of this agreement, the Beachcomber Association shall certify to the DOJ, in writing, that it has fulfilled to completion all of its obligations under this agreement. The certification shall describe the steps that were taken to fulfill those obligations and shall be accompanied by photographs depicting the completed barrier removal work. Along with the aforesaid certification, the Beachcomber Association shall submit a similar certification regarding the completion of all modifications to the restrooms under this agreement. The parties expressly agree that providing such certifications is essential to the enforcement of this agreement, and that a failure to provide the certifications required by this paragraph constitutes a breach of this agreement.
In summary, this resort facility violated the ADA significantly and as a result incurred severe criticism and remediation requirements with oversite from the DOJ. Had this resort been proactive in installing and maintaining the ADA installations this action could have been prevented.