* Wal-Mart accused of mounting payment machines too high
* Retailer accused of violating federal, California laws
* Wal-Mart says goal is to comply with disability laws
By Jonathan Stempel
July 25 Wal-Mart Stores Inc has been
sued by disability rights advocates who accused the world's
largest retailer of failing to make payment machines accessible
to disabled customers who use wheelchairs and scooters.
In what they called the first case of its kind, the
plaintiffs accused Wal-Mart of discriminating against disabled
customers by mounting "point-of-sale" terminals in many stores
at elevated heights that cannot be reached.
They said this makes it difficult or impossible for the
customers to pay for goods with credit or debit cards, and that
Wal-Mart has refused to replace these older-model terminals
despite using more accessible equipment in other stores.
The complaint filed on Wednesday with the federal court in
San Francisco accuses Wal-Mart of violating the Americans with
Disabilities Act and California state laws protecting the
It seeks class-action status, and a permanent injunction
requiring the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer to make
point-of-sale terminals fully accessible to people in
wheelchairs and scooters.
"Wal-Mart should be an industry leader, not a defender of
discrimination," Bill Lann Lee, a lawyer for the plaintiffs,
said in a statement.
Ashley Hardie, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, in a statement said
the retailer is committed to serving disabled people. "Our goal
is that every POS machine be accessible within the regulations
and guidelines of the ADA and California law," she added.
The lawsuit was filed by Center for Independent Living Inc,
a group based in Berkeley, California; and California residents
Janet Brown and Lisa Kilgore, who both use wheelchairs. Two
other disability rights groups are also involved.
According to the complaint, some customers are forced to
"stretch and strain upwards" to see Wal-Mart's view screens,
while others risk identity theft by having to orally give their
personal identification numbers to cashiers.
The complaint said neither Brown nor Kilgore can see the
display screens at the Wal-Mart stores where they shop, and
neither can privately enter her own confidential PIN number.
"I feel unsafe when I check out," Brown said in a statement.
The case is Center for Independent Living Inc et al v.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of
California, No. 12-03885.