The NPC community is working very hard to ensure that their organization represents diverse membership. An important dimension of this effort is the question of whether your chapter house is accessible to members and guests with a disability, be it a physical or a mental condition.
We have heard from several clients who expressed an interested in an accessibility audit, in which their chapter houses could be inspected to see where the facility could be made more accessible.
One question that has arisen is regarding doing the audit for a location and what liability may be created by doing an audit and not addressing the deficiencies identified for accessibility. This question, first off, needs to examine what liability in fact is being imposed upon sorority chapter houses, if any. The natural assumption is that disability accessibility is imposed through the Americans with Disability Acts (ADA). Please review our resource on this topic that illustrates that the ADA does not apply to fraternal organizations (aka sorority chapter housing).
However, there may be some local municipalities that have imposed similar ADA-like regulations which may or may not apply to the sorority chapter houses.
Therefore, with the lack of any applicable regulation(s) there is no liability imposed on the sorority chapter house. In the absence of any liability, if an accessibility audit is completed and for whatever reason any or none of the recommendations are not addressed, there is virtually little or no threat to your organization or the chapter house.
We do believe that there could be liability if there are promises made to a specific member or prospective member for a condition to be addressed, and the chapter ends up being unable to do so, which could potentially result in a contractual liability claim (also referred to as breach of contract).
Should you have additional questions or concerns regarding this subject, feel free to contact your Client Executive.