Retailer Can’t Afford to Change for the Disabled
By George Anderson
A report in the Sacramento Bee last week covered a court case brought
against Mervyn’s by Californians for Disability Rights alleging the retailer
is violating state law by not providing access for wheelchairs to merchandise
in its stores.
Mervyn’s, a unit of Target, contends it can not afford to change its stores
to meet the space needs of shoppers using wheelchairs, scooters, crutches and
Laurence W. Paradis, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said, “A decade after the
(Americans with Disabilities Act), we’re still told we’re not welcome by a retail
conglomerate, one of the richest companies in America. For Mervyn’s to have
no mandatory requirement for spacing (around merchandise racks) is shameful.”
Mervyn’s chief executive, Diane Neal, disagrees with the characterization.
She testified the company has invested $100 million to remodel stores and open
up floor space. It has also hired an expert to identify access problems in stores
and it is training employees on how to provide superior customer service to
shoppers with disabilities.
The changes demanded by Californians for Disability Rights would cost Mervyn’s
approximately $40 million annually to redesign its 125 stores in the state and
remove merchandise to free up floor space, according to the chain.
Moderator’s Comment: What is your view on this lawsuit?
What happens when the needs of the retailer and shopper conflict?
Mervyn’s, based on its numbers, would spend one percent
of its annual gross sales in California to make sure there is 32 inches between
racks as demanded by the Californians for Disability Rights.
Anderson – Moderator]