A California disability rights group and two women are suing Walmart after it refused a request to make its credit and debit card machines more accessible to wheelchair-bound customers.
The federal class action lawsuit led by the Berkley-based Center of Independent Living alleges that the nationwide chain store company is violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the Oakland Tribune
The suit asks for unspecified damages and also seeks to force the company into placing machines in a lower counter position so people in wheelchairs can more easily reach them during checkout.
Yomi Wrong, executive director of the Center for Independent Living, said wheelchair users now are forced to ask cashiers to sign their names or key in personal pin numbers whenever they make a purchase with credit or debit cards.
“Walmart wants to be seen as America’s store, and they claim to value their customers. But this is not dignified . . . It is no way to treat someone who uses a wheelchair or scooter,” Wrong said.
Arlene Mayerson, an attorney with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, which is representing the plaintiffs, said Walmart refused a request in April to make the machines more accessible, claiming they were already in compliance with federal law.
“We certainly don’t think a retailer such as Walmart should be standing on some technicality when their shoppers are telling them. ‘We can’t use the machines,’” Mayerson said.
She said the store’s position also leaves shoppers in wheelchairs vulnerable to identity theft because they do not have control of their signatures and pin numbers during checkout.
Walmart spokeswoman Ashley Hardie, however, defended the company in a statement.
“Walmart takes it seriously any time questions or allegations are raised concerning our ADA compliance . . . We are committed to serving those with disabilities,” she said.
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