California Lawsuit Aims to Stop and Prevent Disability Discrimination

A federal discrimination lawsuit was recently filed against Wal-Mart alleging discrimination. The suit alleges the retail company does not make payment machines accessible to customers using wheelchairs or scooters. Making machines inaccessible to those with disabilities is a violation of both California state law and the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act.

The suit was filed by disability rights advocates and is the first of its kind. The advocates claim Wal-Mart intentionally places point-of-sale terminals beyond the reach of disabled people at several stores in California, where it operates more than 200 stores.

Disabled employees and customers are unable to pay for goods with a debit or credit card on their own without accessible payment machines. They are forced to ask for the assistance of cashiers. The cashiers must read the charges to the disabled individuals, enter in their PIN numbers, or sign receipts on their behalf.

One plaintiff is a woman with disabilities who states the entire process makes her feel unsafe. Alleging disability discrimination, she also cites privacy concerns, saying she "hates" having to give the cashier her PIN number.

The advocates hope the lawsuit will bring every point-of-sale machine within the regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and California law. The exact damages sought are unspecified.

In terms of disabilities, an assumption that everyone is not disabled leads to an overall environment that is inaccessible to people who have disabilities. This results in oppression for those with disabilities and privilege for those without.

Disability discrimination is also common in employment situations. Employers must make reasonable adjustments so disabled employees can work. Employers must not harass disabled employees or treating them differently than non-disabled employees.

Non-disabled individuals also face discrimination in certain situations if they associate with someone who is disabled. It is also illegal to discriminate against someone with a disabled spouse or child.

Discrimination can also be based on race or gender. In the first part of this century, several countries passed laws to discourage discrimination and harassment against people with disabilities, as civil rights became more popular globally.

Recently these concepts have expanded to include equal opportunity legislation against racism and sexism. Currently, in many countries, it is illegal to discriminate against individuals based on any of these factors both in the workplace and when providing goods, services, or facilities.

Discrimination creates hostile situations which only escalate if the problem is not immediately addressed. Individuals dealing with discrimination are often made to feel undignified and insignificant.

In these situations, an experienced harassment and discrimination attorney can provide necessary guidance and support. An experienced discrimination lawyer can help individuals assert their rights to experience an environment free from harassment and discrimination.