California residents may be interested to learn that a district court judge ruled that the entrance to Hollister stores violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Hollister is a nationwide chain of clothing stores owned by Abercrombie & Fitch. The case, which started in 2009, alleges disability discrimination because store entrances are not accessible to persons with disabilities.
Hollister presents a certain image to consumers. The stores look like surfing shack. They refer to girls as "Bettys" and boys as "Dudes." Each store has an entrance that with steps leading up to a porch. A company executive stated that the entrances were designed to make people feel like they were entering a beach house. Unfortunately, according to one judge, the entrances are also illegal. A Colorado resident filed suit after her wheelchair was unable to navigate the steps to allow her entry into the store. The company claims that there are accessible side entrances; however, the plaintiff said that these entrances are typically blocked with merchandise and therefore unusable. The judge agreed that the inaccessible entrances violate the ADA and ordered the company to make the store entrances accessible.
This was not the first time Abercrombie & Fitch has been in the news for alleged discrimination. The company previously received bad press in 2009 when an employee reported being moved to work in a store room because her prosthetic arm was considered not aesthetically pleasing.
The ADA requires companies and employers to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. A person who could not access the building because there was no accessible entrance could be entitled to damages if no resolution can be reached. An attorney may be able to obtain accommodations that will allow workers and consumers with disabilities to maintain their employment or access a company.
Source: The Raw Story, "Federal judge rules Hollister entrances violate Americans with Disabilities Act", Susan Greene, May 21, 2013