[Nfbnet-members-list] PetSmart Accused of Discrimination Against the Blind in New Civil Suit

Wichmann, Jessica jwichmann at nfb.org
Wed Apr 22 21:41:51 UTC 2015


Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
<mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org

Kevin Williams
Legal Program Director
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
(720) 336-3584
<mailto:kwilliams at ccdconline.org>kwilliams at ccdconline.org

PetSmart Accused of Discrimination Against the Blind in New Civil Suit

Plaintiffs Allege 'Separate but Unequal'
Treatment of Blind Customers

Denver, Colorado (April 22, 2015): PetSmart, Inc., which bills itself 
as the nation's largest seller of pet food, pet supplies, and pet 
services in the United States, is accused of violating the rights of 
blind customers under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 
according to a class action lawsuit (Case No. 1:15-cv-00839) filed 
yesterday in the United States District Court for the District of 
Colorado on behalf of <http://www.nfb.org/>the National Federation of 
the Blind (NFB), the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), and 
six blind individuals who reside in Colorado, Texas, and 
Massachusetts. The suit alleges violations of Title III of the ADA as 
well as state laws, because PetSmart requires the entry of debit card 
PINs on touch-screen keypads, which the blind cannot operate, rather 
than simple, inexpensive tactile keypads.

Despite a Department of Justice ("DOJ") statement filed in a Florida 
court more than a year ago that set forth the DOJ's position that 
merchants are required under the ADA to provide blind customers a 
physical keypad to input their debit card PINs, PetSmart has failed 
to do so. As a result, blind customers are forced to sacrifice the 
security of their debit card PIN by sharing it with PetSmart 
employees or using another less desirable form of payment.

"PetSmart is discriminating against the blind by not providing us the 
same treatment as their sighted customers," says Yolanda Thompson, 
one of the lead plaintiffs in the suit. "PetSmart seems to have a 
'separate but unequal' attitude when it comes to the disabled."

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, 
said: "Blind people are just as concerned about the security of our 
financial accounts and information as our sighted peers, so having to 
verbally provide our debit card PIN to PetSmart's sales personnel is 
not acceptable. Nor is it an answer to say that we can pay with cash 
or a credit card instead; blind people must have all of the same 
options for payment as the sighted as a matter of equal treatment, 
and the benefits of using debit cards, such as the ability to receive 
cash back, apply equally to the blind. We will not accept PetSmart's 
cavalier attitude toward the basic security and equal treatment that 
we are entitled to expect from those with whom we do business."

"It's difficult to give quality care to my guide dog from a place 
that doesn't offer me equality," said Dishon Spears, a Colorado 
resident and NFB member. "Blind customers cannot shop at PetSmart in 
the same way that sighted customers can. This is discrimination, 
whether or not PetSmart intends it that way."

Plaintiffs are represented in this matter by Jana Eisinger and 
Douglas Lambalot of the Martinez Law Group, P.C., a law firm that 
specializes in complex litigation and class actions, with offices in 
Denver and New York City; Scott LaBarre of LaBarre Law Offices, P.C. 
in Denver; and Kevin Williams, head of the Colorado Cross-Disability 
Coalition Legal Program in Denver.
About the National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the 
characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise 
the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create 
obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life 
you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

About the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition

The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) is a non-profit, 
disability rights advocacy organization whose mission is to advocate 
for social justice for people with all types of disabilities.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://nfbnet.org/pipermail/nfbnet-members-list_nfbnet.org/attachments/20150422/809c4e5e/attachment.html>

More information about the NFBNet-Members-List mailing list