Wal-Mart Sued by Disabled Over Payment Machines

July 27, 2012

Disability rights advocates filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., claiming the retail giant refuses to make payment machines accessible to customers who use wheelchairs and scooters.

The plaintiffs allege that Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart knowingly placed point-of-sale terminals beyond the reach of disabled customers at many of its more than 200 stores in California.

The lack of accessible payment devices makes it difficult for many disabled customers to independently pay for goods with a credit or debit card, according to the lawsuit, which attorneys say is the first of its kind.

“Wal-Mart should be an industry leader, not a defender of discrimination,” plaintiff’s attorney Bill Lann Lee said in a statement. “Point-of-sale machines are the wave of the future in American retail. They should be accessible, convenient and secure to use for all customers.”

Wal-Mart officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by the Berkeley-based Center for Independent Living and two disabled individuals. They are represented by the groups Disability Rights Advocates and Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.

“I feel unsafe when I check out at Wal-Mart,” said plaintiff Janet Brown, a wheelchair user from Pittsburg. “I can’t reach the payment device on my own, read the display screen, enter my PIN or sign the screen to complete the transaction. I have to share my private PIN with the cashier, which I hate to do.”

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