Reasonable Accommodations in the Lodging Industry

Region 3 ADA Center Ellen Fabian, Ph.D. University of Maryland. To describe employer practices in accommodating workers with disabilities in the lodging sector, a brief online survey (35 items) was disseminated through industry organizations and regional ADA centers throughout the country. The 175 responders were mainly from independently owned and operated hotels, ranging from small to large (2-12,000 employees, mean 444, median 75). Most had a least one employee with a disability (70%) and had responded to an accommodation request from an employee (85%).  Only 40% percent correctly identified the purpose of accommodation, which is to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. The most important factors in deciding whether to provide accommodation were the presence of company policies, the type and cost of the requested accommodation, and whether a supervisor was involved. Small and large companies differed somewhat on which factor came out on top. Findings suggest a need for training and technical assistance— tailored to specific characteristics of the business—in order to increase understanding of the reasons for providing accommodations and to dispel myths about costs. These efforts may increase participation of individuals with disabilities in the lodging workforce. Looking ahead, research needs to explore the best practices for accomplishing these changes.

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