Travel e-tailer Hotels.com is being sued by a group of disabled Californian dancers because it could not guarantee reservations for customers with wheelchairs.
Bonnie Lewkowicz and Judith Smith of of the AXIS non-profit dance company filed a complaint in Alameda County Superior Court seeking an injunction that would force the internet store to account for disabled shoppers.
The complaint (pdf) argues that Hotels.com’s failure to guarantee disabled access to the hotels it sells means passengers with wheelchairs may not be able to enter their room on arrival.
The pair have asked that their complaint be made a class-action lawsuit so that it can represent all Californian customers.
Kevin Knestrick, a Berkeley-based disability lawyer representing the two, told Bay City News that Hotels.com lumps accessibility in with “amenities” like king-sized beds but that accessibility is more of a necessity than an optional extra for customers with wheelchairs.
The website, which is in the same stable as Ticketmaster and Citysearch, was founded in 1991 as a telephone reservations service but was bought by IAC/InterActiveCorp in 2003.
Californian law states that all public places must be accessible to people with a disability.
Although the UK’s Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compels webmasters to create websites accessible to all. The US’ Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which similarly requires all public accommodations be accessible to disabled people, was clarified by a 2002 Florida ruling that said websites do not constitute public accommodations.