Apple settles disability lawsuit over San Francisco store

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple has agreed to make changes to its San Francisco store and retrain its entire retail workforce as part of a settlement in a long-running disability lawsuit filed by two wheelchair-bound customers.



Oakland residents Jana Overbo and Nicole Brown-Booker, together with Apple, signed an agreement late last week to make three pages' worth of changes to the actual store on Stockton Street, the Cupertino-based company's employee training procedures, and its retail website.



The two women had separate but identically frustrating experiences in May and July of 2007. According to the original suit, neither could reach products or service desks from their wheelchairs, the store's presentation theater lacked accessible seating or passageways, and elevator buttons were placed too high to reach, resulting in wasted trips and added difficulty.



Both Overbo and Brown-Booker had made it clear in their suit that they were more interested in seeing helpful changes made rather than being awarded punitive damages, so news of a settlement is not surprising. The two sides agreed on a separate settlement to cover legal fees and their attorneys' compensation, and the details of that part of the case remain confidential.



Changes to the San Francisco store



According to the 13-page consent order filing, Apple will make sure the "push pressure" needed to open the front door will be kept at the levels outlined by the ADA Accessibility Guidelines. The Mac maker will also install handrails in the west end corridor and install Braille signage at each elevator landing.



The first-floor unisex bathroom's door will be monitored for push pressure requirements and receive an accessible coat hook on the interior side, while a motion-activated light switch will be installed in the bathroom itself. The filing also notes changes to the location of the commode and requires that Apple "insure that an adequate supply of toilet paper is placed in the upper dispenser."



As for the presentation theater, new wheelchair seating spaces will be added to the back row while the current wheelchair-intended seating in the front row will be removed. Apple employees will also reportedly make sure children's computer programs at the kids' table can be moved to an accessible table upon request, and Geniuses will offer to move the desktop computer monitors at either end of the Genius Bar for easier access and viewing.



Changes to employee training



Along with the childrens' programs and Genius Bar requirements, the agreement calls for Apple to provide mandatory "outreach" training for all present and future retail associates. These efforts will focus on approaching and greeting wheelchair-using customers upon entering, offering assistance in accessing products.



Employees will also be required to offer to help with the operation of display models and move products to special locations on existing tables upon request.



The Genius Bar at Apple's San Francisco flagship shop on One Stockton Street



Once this training is complete, Apple will post language on the accessibility page of its website informing customers with disabilities of the special services available to them.



"Please ask an Associate for assistance if you have difficulty viewing a product when you visit an Apple Retail Store," the notice will say. "They will be happy to assist you by moving displayed products to more accessible locations if possible."



Timeframe for changes



The two sides say they reached the settlement "in order to avoid the costs, expense and uncertainty of protracted litigation." Apple will submit permit applications for the work to the city of San Francisco within 30 days, begin actual work within 30 days of approval, and complete construction within another 30 days of starting.



Employees at the San Francisco store will complete their accessible training by June 30, 2009, presumably to coincide with the finished changes, and the training at all other stores is to be finished by the end of this year.



According to ifoAppleStore, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston is expected to sign the agreement at the next hearing.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    ..... (moderator note: don't be a jerk)
  • Reply 2 of 70
    I'm a little surprised Apple's stores weren't already ADA compliant.



    It's sad how much time (and lawyers' fees) it takes to convince a business to adopt some common sense modifications to make it more accessible for its customers.



    At least it was settled before having to go to trial.
  • Reply 3 of 70
    dimmokdimmok Posts: 359member
    ..... (don't be a jerk)
  • Reply 4 of 70
    It's a shame that it took a lawsuit for Apple to make these changes. I hope that Apple will be making similar changes at ALL of their stores, and not just the San Francisco store?
  • Reply 5 of 70
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,941member
    Where were the SF Inspectors when the building was originally built? Inspectors are the ones that should have been held to the chopping block since they have to verify that everything is up to code.



    I don't think Apple should have been the ones to get the heat per-se. If the Inspectors signed-off on the final inspections, let them take the heat.



    I deal with SF inspectors all the time and quite frankly, they are not worth anything.
  • Reply 6 of 70
    "The two sides agreed on a separate settlement to cover legal fees and their attorneys' compensation."



    Thank goodness for this. I was really worried that the blood-sucking vampire lawyers weren't going to get paid. I HATE lawyers! They're ruining this country and making us all weak, apologetic, scared, and pathetic. It really amazes me how this country was able to run before the day of "suing over a hot cup of McDonald's coffee"? [that's sarcasm for those who can't recognize it]
  • Reply 7 of 70
    yeah, cause apple is such a backwards company. and apple stores are soooo cramped and hard to move around in. and it's not like they allow you to make a purchase anywhere in the store. are you JOKING?? what a couple of jerks, waste of time and money.
  • Reply 8 of 70
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,702member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by echosonic View Post


    .....



    Oi, moderator! Can you throw this person out of this forum? Head first down the stairs, please. And for good. Seriously.
  • Reply 9 of 70
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,471member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    Oi, moderator! Can you throw this person out of this forum? Head first down the stairs, please. And for good. Seriously.



    I assumed it was black humor . ... surely he was kidding ...
  • Reply 10 of 70
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,702member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cwfrederick View Post


    yeah, cause apple is such a backwards company. and apple stores are soooo cramped and hard to move around in. and it's not like they allow you to make a purchase anywhere in the store. are you JOKING?? what a couple of jerks, waste of time and money.



    You clearly have NO idea what you are talking about. Your comment betrays your juvenile ignorance. Most people that are disabled are so because the environment in which they operate makes them so. With a little bit of awareness and design fore-thought one can make stores and public places accessible to all. The thing is that when this is done well everybody benefits, not just people with disabilities. Much like with web accessibility.
  • Reply 11 of 70
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,702member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    I assumed it was black humor . ... surely he was kidding ...



    Maybe, if so s/he just needs a good spanking for poor taste and lousy delivery. I see nothing suggesting there is any kind of humor involved, though.
  • Reply 12 of 70
    tony1tony1 Posts: 259member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    Oi, moderator! Can you throw this person out of this forum? Head first down the stairs, please. And for good. Seriously.



    Thanks, I was thinking the same thing. Nothing funny at all here. BTW, I am disabled, so I do take offense.
  • Reply 13 of 70
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    Oi, moderator! Can you throw this person out of this forum? Head first down the stairs, please. And for good. Seriously.



    Seconded.
  • Reply 14 of 70
    As a result of an accident, I was on a wheelchair and crutches for a few months. The world sure looked different, I can tell you. It's not until you've walked in those shoes that you realize that disabled folks are not naturally crabby: there are a million little things that happen in most places you go to, quite apart from the lack of compassion you commonly witness -- see, e.g., the moron above -- that starts to grate after a while. I found myself becoming more and more nasty as time went on. (I marvel at those who maintain their sense of humor and equanimity in that situation).



    For anyone rolling their eyes: Hope you don't (or someone you care for, whom you have to wheel around doesn't) have to experience it anytime soon!
  • Reply 15 of 70
    I've actually been in an Apple Store where the staffer who greeted me as I came in (is that the concierge? I have no idea. Orange shirt.) was IN a wheelchair, so I don't think the company is out to make life difficult for people who use wheelchairs. But I could see some of the display surfaces not being at the right height...
  • Reply 16 of 70
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DimMok View Post


    Mam, sorry but(t) your AZZ-CRACK is showing....



    A not uncommon sight at the Stockton St. Genius Bar.
  • Reply 17 of 70
    OMG, its a lawsuit that's not patent troll. It benefits people that are not lawyers. AAAAAAHHHHHHH...!
  • Reply 18 of 70
    blah64blah64 Posts: 990member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by echosonic View Post


    Inane dribble by echosonic



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tony1 View Post


    Thanks, I was thinking the same thing. Nothing funny at all here. BTW, I am disabled, so I do take offense.



    I am not disabled. Nor am I inclined to be very "PC", in general. But that comment was just nasty. Even if it was intended as sarcastic humor, it doesn't belong here.
  • Reply 19 of 70
    i've been reading this website for many months as one of a handful i relied upon to serve info on an iphone i purchased, and further on for info to help make my first mac purchase a couple of months ago. i only registered for the forum to comment on this news article.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Original Article


    These efforts will focus on approaching and greeting wheelchair-using customers upon entering, offering assistance in accessing products.



    wtf? ok, first a really short background on me: i'm a disabled vet who needs a cane to get around at 32 years of age. but when i go into a store, i dont care what the damn sign is on the front, DO NOT PATRONIZE ME OR TREAT ME LIKE I'M SPECIAL OR RETARDED. just greet me like any other customer because that's all i am... another customer. obviously these broads think they're entitled to a life of privlege due to their handicap. boohoo.



    if i need assistance, i'm able to ask. i'm not some incompetent a-hole who will hobble out of there pissed off because someone wasnt there to wait on me hand and foot. i dont wear my cane like a cross. i suggest these broads take the wheelchairs off their shoulders. if they are busy, i look for the nearest associate, politely wait my turn, then when my turn is up, i act like an adult and verbalize my requests.



    granted, i know everyone feels differently as to how they're approached, especially those of us who are disabled... but no matter what your disability is, you do NOT deserve to be treated like a VIP as these women are requesting with that one line.



    the rest of it is reasonable though, and should have been caught by the city inspector long before the store opened, though.
  • Reply 20 of 70
    Theater seating? Apple ditched the Theater from all their stores. How did the construction of the store pass inspection, when current inspection codes require handicap accessibility? Part of the agreement states that Apple must move the toilet in the bathroom? Every bathroom I have been in has always been handicap compliant. In fact, I always use the larger stall for breathing room compared to the extra cramped regular stalls! Nor have I ever seen an elevator button too high to reach. Every Apple store I have been in has been compliant for any type of customer.



    Sounds like their main complaint was that the counter was too high and they did not receive any customer service so they blamed it on the fact that they were handicapped. As Oakie said, act like an adult, and you will be treated like an adult, no matter what your physical condition may be. So are they going to sue every store that has a counter that is too high?



    I worked for an insurance company that used a combination touchpad for the door security. The buttons were smooth plastic and the numbers illuminated below. Everytime you pressed the start button, the numbers appeared in random order, so you could not watch someone punch in their code to gain access. Now for the funny part: directly above the touchpanel was the plaque on the wall that said "Claims Dept" and the braille translation directly below with raised dots. So if an employee was vision impaired, they could find the Claims Dept by braille on the plaque, but they would have no access to the office since the combination number pad was smooth plastic, and unable to be braille compliant. Typical insurance company. So we all wondered why they were compliant for the blind, when a blind person would be unable to gain access to the actual office.
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