Center for Independent Living, Inc. (CIL), et al. v. Wal-Mart
In today’s challenging economy, many Americans are shopping at stores like Wal-Mart that offer low prices, convenience and affordability. These stores are central to activities of daily living for millions of people. Yet many of these retailers knowingly place point-of-sale machines beyond the reach of patrons with disabilities who use wheelchairs and scooters. This compromises disabled patrons’ privacy and safety because they must rely on another person to enter their private financial information to purchase goods and services.
In July 2012, DRA filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Center for Independent Living, Inc. (CIL) and two individuals with mobility disabilities challenging this practice at Wal-Mart stores in California.
In January 2017, the CIL and Wal-Mart reached an agreement that represents the culmination of a three-year endeavor by Wal-Mart to develop a first-of-its-kind card reader payment device mount that provides greater access for its customers with mobility disabilities.
As part of the agreement, Wal-Mart will install the new card reader mounts at checkstands located at the front of its California stores. The new mounts will be attached to the checkstand, and the card reader payment devices will sit in a sleeve and will be removable from the sleeve so that a wheelchair user can process the purchase transaction more easily from a lowered height. The card readers will be secured to the checkstand by a cord that extends and retracts and that will protect against data theft. In addition, Wal-Mart sales clerks will offer assistance to those shoppers with disabilities who need help removing the card reader payment device from the sleeve or replacing the device after the transaction is processed. Wal-Mart will roll out the new mounts at its California stores beginning Spring 2017, and will install them at all stores in California by Summer 2019. Checkstands with the new mount will be marked with signage near the lane number.
Janet Brown commented, “I applaud Wal-Mart for agreeing to work with people with mobility disabilities to provide equal access to basic retail services. This is critical to ensuring that people who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters can independently navigate the check-out process after shopping. Wal-Mart has taken a leadership position in the industry on this important access issue.”
Disability Rights Advocates senior staff attorney Rebecca Williford said, “We are pleased that Wal-Mart has agreed to do the right thing for consumers with mobility disabilities. We hope this serves as a model for all other retailers to follow.”
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) also represented the plaintiffs in this lawsuit.