By:  Kara Maciel

On March 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) had temporarily postponed compliance with the 2010 ADA Standards as it relates to providing accessible entries and exits to pools and spas.  That day was set to expire later this month, on May 21, 2012, but the DOJ has announced that it will extend that compliance date to January 31, 2013 – a nine month extension from the original compliance date of March 15, 2012.

This extension to January 31, 2013, however, does not change the substance of the DOJ’s requirement that lifts be “fixed.”  The DOJ failed to address concerns raised by the lodging industry and associations through the public comment period that fixed lifts could increase liability to operators from children or misuse around unattended pools, that lifts should be able to be shared between multiple pools and spas, or the concerns over extensive electrical and construction work that would be associated with installing a fixed lift. 

What this means for pool and spa operators is that, while they now have additional time to bring their property into compliance, the requirement that a single fixed lift be installed for every pool and spa on the facility remains firm, and non-compliance could subject the owner and operator to liability under the ADA from a DOJ investigation or from a private lawsuit.