Lawsuit Alert - Hotels Renting to MinorsTue Mar 8, 2016
CH&LA alerted its members last year that legal claims were being asserted against numerous lodging properties for refusing to rent to unaccompanied minors. The person at the center of most of those claims (Jonathan Asselin-Normand) is continuing his long-running campaign against California lodging properties raising such claims.
As CH&LA has repeatedly advised its members, both the California Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibit blanket policies denying accommodations to people solely because they are unaccompanied minors. The minimum damages for violating the Unruh Act is $4,000, plus attorney's fees.
However, where a minor unaccompanied by an adult seeks accommodations, hotel staff may require a parent or guardian of the minor, or another responsible adult, to assume, in writing, full liability for any and all proper charges and other obligations incurred by the minor for accommodations, food and beverages, and other services provided by or through the innkeeper, as well as for any and all injuries or damage caused by the minor to any person or property. California Code 1865(d)(1).
What Members Should Do ASAP:
- Review your policies, and if you have a blanket policy against accommodating unaccompanied minors, change that policy to comply with the law.
- If your policy is on your web site or otherwise in your marketing materials, delete all reference to it.
- Make sure all staff members know that your hotel does not have a blanket prohibition against accepting unaccompanied minors. Be sure to constantly remind them of this fact.
- Check with your third-party booking entities to see what, if anything, they say about your hotel's policies involving minors and children. Be sure that they comply with the law.
- Consider utilizing a written form with a responsible party acknowledging their liability for the minor. Please click here for a sample.
If you have questions about this, feel free to contact CH&LA's Member Legal Advisor, Jim Abrams, at firstname.lastname@example.org.