Have you ever wanted the classic Los Angeles experience: to gawk at movie stars' homes, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Sunset Strip from the comfort of a tour bus? What if you were in a wheelchair? Would the bus tour be able to accommodate you, your friends and your wheelchair?
Well, Starline Tours, the largest and oldest of the Hollywood-centric tours, couldn't provide a working wheelchair-accessible bus for a woman who used a wheelchair and her group, who were in town for a National meeting. Rather than the trip of their lifetime, what she got instead was an eight-month ordeal to get a reservation, a six-hour wait for a tour that never took off and a part in a federal lawsuit. This was a really big deal for this group who have a condition called ataxia, a degenerative disease. They felt they may never be well enough to come to LA again.
Starline Tours, which serves about a million tourists a year, simply didn’t take the ADA seriously and didn’t prepare for such situation despite the fact that the group gave the tour company 8 months notice of their impending trip.
With the 22nd anniversary approaching, many transportation companies have yet to provide wheelchair accessible tour buses so that people with disabilities can have an equal opportunity to participate in tourist attractions available to everyone else.
According to the decree, only 25 of the 90 vehicles Starline currently operates are wheelchair-accessible. The company agreed to pay a fine of $5,000, and $15,000 in compensation for the group, ensure that enough of its buses are wheelchair-accessible from now on and to train its employees.
Don’t wait until you’re faced with a challenging situation that can easily turn into an adversarial one and result in a lawsuit and unnecessary bad publicity. Get your house in order by reviewing your policies and procedures and implementing a training program so that your employees know how to handle situations when they arise.
This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.