By Nate Raymond
(Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider whether to curtail lawsuits accusing hotels and other places of lodging of discriminating against disabled people by not providing enough information about their accessibility on their websites in a case involving a quaint inn near the Atlantic coast of Maine.
The justices took up an appeal by the Maine hotel’s owner of a lower court’s ruling allowing a disabled Florida woman to sue the business for not complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) even though she never planned to book one of its rooms.
The ADA is a landmark civil rights law that protects people with disabilities from discrimination in public accommodations, as well as areas including employment, transportation, communications and access to public programs and services.
Plaintiff Deborah Laufer is a self-proclaimed ADA “tester” who has filed more than 600 similar lawsuits after searching for websites of hotels that do not provide enough information about whether their rooms are accessible under the ADA.
That law requires hotels to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. A related regulation requires hotel owners to describe accessible features of their guest rooms on their websites.
Business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have said such self-proclaimed ADA “testers” have been fueling an explosion in lawsuits under the law against small businesses accused of discriminating against disabled people.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Will Dunham)