Domino’s Pizza has restaurants and a website and app to order at-home delivery and in-store pickup of pizzas, the latter being the focus of today’s column.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability “in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation…”
BLIND MAN TRIES TO ORDER PIZZA
Plaintiff Guillermo Robles, a blind man, attempted to order online a customized pizza from a nearby Domino’s. Domino’s website and app did not allow Robles to order a pizza using his screen-reading software which vocalizes visual information on websites.
Robles sued Domino’s claiming it failed to “design, construct, maintain and operate its website and mobile application (app) to be fully accessible.”
Domino’s defended claiming the ADA governs its restaurants, not its online websites.
The legal question in this high profile case was whether the ADA applies to Domino’s website and app.
The Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals wrote that a restaurant like Domino’s engages in unlawful discrimination if it fails to “take steps as may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services.” Auxiliary aids include accessible electronic and information technology.
The Court ruled that the ADA is not limited to discrimination occurring on the premises of a restaurant because of the nexus between Domino’s website and app and its physical restaurants.
Customers use the website and app to order pizzas for at-home delivery or in-store pick up, so to fail to take all steps necessary to allow access to its pizzas is, or could be, a violation of the ADA. Robles is allowed to move his case forward, but must prove that Domino’s website and app do not provide the blind with effective communication and full and equal enjoyment of Domino’s Pizza products.
Most importantly, the Court declined to rule on whether the ADA governs the websites or apps of a physical place of public accommodation where their inaccessibility does not impede access to the goods and services of a physical location.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.portersimon.com.
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