CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) – A Georgia man believes he was turned away from an Alabama motel because of his power wheelchair.
Scott East taped the interaction with the motel worker after he was told he could not stay at the property.
“I was probably more hurt and embarrassed than anything,” said East.
East told CBS 42 that his family had traveled from Villa Rica to visit a water park near Lake Weisssee. He said he called Weiss Lake Lodge to confirm that a room for special needs was available.
“They already gave me the price and everything, and the guy told me all the floors in the motel are on one level and everything on one level is wheelchair accessible and everything is wheelchair accessible,” East said.
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The Georgia husband and father has some form of arthritis that prevents him from strengthening his knees and has been using a power wheelchair for about a year.
In the mobile phone video, the employee can be seen on the phone with another person. She returns to the window and tells West that they cannot stay on the property. The family were eventually told to leave and threatened with a phone call to law enforcement.
“She talked about not wanting to be responsible, she didn’t have to be responsible to me, that’s why I can, when she said that I don’t understand what she was saying.” said east.
East said he was having some difficulty understanding the employee and the motel manager told CBS 42 that he thought it was a misunderstanding.
“Miscommunication, that’s all that matters. I understand and feel for the man, ”said James McDonald, a new manager at Weiss Lake Lodge.
McDonald said that on the day in question, all motel guests checked out after the busy bank holiday weekend. He said none of the rooms had been cleaned but regretted that his clerk hadn’t said East while the window was taken.
“She just can’t speak enough English to tell him what she should have told him, which is that the room wasn’t ready for him because if you’d given us a brief announcement we could have it ready. but she didn’t notice, ”said McDonald.
East denies McDonald’s claim he didn’t call ahead. McDonald said he didn’t speak to East and was unfamiliar with the details of a conversation with another employee. McDonald said he called East to apologize and offered him a free night at the hotel. According to McDonald, there are two rooms accessible to those with special needs. East told CBS 42 that he hopes his story will raise awareness of the challenges people with disabilities may face.
“If he had told me if you come back in an hour we have to clean up the rooms, that would have been a reason, or I have problems but ignoring someone completely and telling him to get off you,” Property? ” East said.
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For context, CBS 42 turned to the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program at the University of Alabama School of Law.
Similar organizations exist in every state, and all are federally mandated and funded to defend and protect the rights of people with disabilities.
Larry Canada, an attorney with ADAP, shared his reaction to the video.
“You could have had a situation where there were no rooms available and the owner should have just said so. That wouldn’t necessarily be a violation. There might only be a couple of rooms accessible and they should have said so, but in a situation where the disabled person wants to take a normal room, for me it is a violation of Title 3 of the ADA, ”Canada said.
Canada said public housing is not free to refuse service to people with a disability. ADAP offers business owner training to help ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you have any questions about ADA issues, you can contact ADAP through their website or at 205.348.4928.
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