[Nfbnet-members-list] PetSmart Accused of Discrimination Against the Blind in New Civil Suit
jwichmann at nfb.org
Wed Apr 22 21:41:51 UTC 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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
Legal Program Director
Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
<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.
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