Disabled citizens will soon be better accommodated at Taco Bell restaurant franchise locations across California, due to a recent class-action lawsuit ruling in their favor.
The first week of October, 2011, the presiding judge in a controversial class-action lawsuit case filed in 2002 against Taco Bell, a restaurant chain owned by Yum Brands, Inc. based out of Louisville, Kentucky, determined Taco Bell restaurants were guilty of violating both federal and California state laws which protect disabled citizens from discrimination and unequal opportunity.
The San Pablo store that was used as the representative location in the lawsuit filed against all 220 branches in California, was examined during the week- long trial back in June, and found to be in violation of disability discrimination laws.
U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton ruled that the San Pablo Taco Bell restaurant did not have sufficient handicapped parking, wheelchair access, and other mandated accommodations for customers suffering from disabling conditions.
Although Taco Bell was determined to be in violation, the judge has not yet decided which improvements and changes will be forced into implementation at all of its 220 California locations. In addition to mandatory renovations, the fast food chain is likely to face hefty fines, which are yet to be determined.
The outcome of this lawsuit has tremendous potential for repercussions across the entire chain, nationwide. Disabled citizens in other states may take the cue from California and file their own class action suits if similar conditions are found in other jurisdictions.
Although some have argued that this attack on fast food chains stems from questionable motives on the part of certain involved parties, the end result will benefit all disabled individuals. All disabled people, regardless of any politics surrounding this case, deserve the same rights as any other citizen.
Being able to eat at a particular restaurant is the right of disabled citizens just as it is the right of those who aren’t disabled, and discrimination against people with disabilities should be viewed no differently than discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, social class, or religious affiliation.
As the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation ages, there will hopefully be increased focus on the need to accommodate those who suffer from disabilities as they begin to represent a larger portion of our population. With Social Security funding in crisis and the disability application system backlogged, finding a parking spot on a Sunday afternoon shouldn’t have to be another concern for those who suffer from disabilities.