ADA “is not necessarily complied with when disabled…people are treated the same”

A federal judge has green-lighted an ADA suit by a blind man not allowed to walk up to drive-through McDonald’s windows after regular restaurant hours were over [Jacob Gershman, WSJ, earlier]

25 Comments

  • …and to top it off, the hot coffee warning wasn’t written in Braille.

    • It was written in Braille – and the customer burned his fingertips reading the warning.

  • I’m sorry but that is just dangerous. Too many people live in an abstract world not a real world where cars at night could run over especially a blind person at the drive thru.

  • Here is the issue, at least to me. McDonald’s is open for business. But the restaurant portion is closed. The only way to get a McFlurry or Big Mac is to go to the drive-through window. I can certainly understand the safety issue. But, perhaps, there could be a walk-up window? Is this really so hard?

    We have decided as a society that the disabled should be given the same right to receive services as the non-disabled, if the cost is reasonable. We could debate whether this is wise, but, until things change, we have blind people who want their Happy Meals and should be entitled to get them, even at 2am.

    • “We have decided as a society that…” This seems somewhat circular, quite aside from the difficulty in determining what “society” means in such a context, how one would go about gauging its opinion, and so forth. Namely, if our system of government decides to recognize this or that exception to the general rule based on practicality, then it makes just as much sense to say we have decided as a society on those exceptions. If it develops bigger exceptions, or decides to repeal the rule or law altogether, then society will have decided that, too. So a sense that “society has decided…” should not deter us in the least from proposing any change we believe warranted to these laws.

      • I completely agree. We should be arguing over proposed changes to the rules.

        The question to me is whether a blind person should have a right to get a hamburger at 3:10am, when a person who’s disability does not prevent driving can get that coveted burger? If the answer is yes, the next question is: should the government should mandate burger shops provide a way for that to happen? If the answer is no, the next question: is why are we so mean to blind people?

        I guess it comes down to: if the market does not provide a solution, should society (government) force one on the market place? And if, so, is there a line where society should just throw up their hands and say “enough”?

        Whose shoes should we be in? The blind person who goes hungry, or the store owner who has to follow millions of rules. Societal interests do compete.

        • “should the government should mandate burger shops provide a way for that to happen? ”

          No, it would probably be more cost effective for the government to provide a few cars and drivers to shuttle the 2 or 3 blind people (in a city of millions) who want a burger a 3AM through the drive through.

    • ” But, perhaps, there could be a walk-up window? Is this really so hard?”

      What makes you imagine that the cost of that would be anywhere in the vicinity of reasonable.

  • ……and they are trying to get this “Super Class Sized” as well.

  • As a bicyclist or a pedestrian who has encountered these car-only places from time to time, I sympathize with the blind guy. But in return for service, the establishment should be protected from liability for the negligent driving of third parties.

    • I would think that given your comment this means that the blind gentleman is not treated any differently than a sighted individual when it comes to the drive thru.

      (And your experience has been the same as my own.)

      It is the lack of being in a car – not his disability – that is preventing the gentleman from getting his quarter pounder.

      He is being treated no differently than anyone else.

      • @gc–

        It might make a legal difference that I have the theoretical ability to come back driving a car, while the blind guy does not. (This distinction will disappear once self-drive cars are marketed to the public,)

        • Sorry Hugo, but you can’t get away with that type of thinking. It is far too limited in scope. (sarcasm alert!)

          A fifteen year old doesn’t have a car. (Wouldn’t that be age discrimination?)

          The elderly can’t see well at night. Some no longer have cars. Shouldn’t McDonald’s then be required to deliver to the elderly’s homes? (More age discrimination!)

          What about people who don’t have cars? (Transportation discrimination! Abuse of the poor!)

          Public transportation won’t take people through the drive-thru! (More discrimination against those who don’t have cars!)

          The drive-thru cannot accommodate (there’s that word again) semi-trucks and the “big rigs.) To say nothing of large mobile homes. (Isn’t that job discrimination because the truck driver can’t choose what he is driving?)

          As to the mobile home people, they can afford a mobile home so they must be too “rich.” Forget them. They’re vehicles hurt the environment anyway.

          What about people in wheelchairs? (Another ADA violation!)

          What about people whose licenses have been suspended? (Disparate impact!)

          So you see, you really need to think this thing through more than you have. There is lot more opportunities for lawyers to appear in front of a judge arguing that their client(s) have a Constitutional right to a Happy Meal.

  • This is a bigger problem that it seems. Because, it would appear, every restaurant and fast-food outlet in Chicago closes before McDonalds. Thus there are just no other choices in the entire city but to get your fast food at a McDonalds drive-in window, after McDonalds closes its regular doors.

    So I say: instead of requiring McDonalds to permit a blind man (!) to walk in its drive-in lane late at night, the courts should be requiring every restaurant and fast-food outlet in Illinois to remain open at least as long as McDonalds keeps its drive-in windows open. That would give any blind person a choice they apparently does not have now.

    In fact, I suggest the court strike a blow for good diet, by prohibiting the sale of quarter-pounders and French fries in Chicago more than 30 minutes after sundown.

    Finally, if the courts accord blind persons the right to walk in a McDonalds drive-in lane late at night, they should be required to wear suitable reflectors to warn drivers of their presence, and also require Chicago police staff every McDonalds drive-in window in the city, to ensure all blind persons actually wear the reflectors.

    • Jf–

      Your post is obviously a reduction ad absurdum, but it does contain at least one good idea: requiring pedestrians expecting service at a drive-by window to wear high-visibility clothing

      • How would the blind person safely get to McDonald’s after dark, anyway?

        • @markm–
          The same way he gets there in daylight hours (eg using his cane to stay on sidewalks), provided the neighborhood has sidewalks and a reasonable amount of streetlighting. Not being blind, I don’t know if blind pedestrians try to wear bright clothing at night; if so, someone else would have to pick it out for them.

          • Even in the daytime, he still wouldn’t be allowed to walk through the drive-thru.

  • Hugo,
    The blind person has the option to come back in a car. It is called a taxi.

    • Jim–
      Some areas, particularly in cities with robust medallion laws, have spotty taxi service. And, to preserve equal access, who should pay for it?

      • Hugo,

        Assume for a second that the person who wanted the service was sighted.

        Who would pay for the taxi then?

        Being served in a drive-thru requires a car.

        This person is not being denied a meal because he is blind, but because of a lack of a car.

        He is being treated and given the same level of service as everyone else who doesn’t have a vehicle.

        In essence, the man doesn’t want an accommodation or consideration because he is being denied a service on the basis of his disability. Instead, he is wanting to be treated differently than others who are lacking a caras well.

        Sorry, but he has no right to demand that McDonalds or any company put their employees at risk in order for him to get special treatment above and beyond what others are offered.

  • Why can’t a blind person who wants a burger at 3 AM take a taxi through the drive through window? A sighted person doesn’t necessarily possess a car, and may, for any number of reasons, some covered by the ADA and some not, not have a driver’s license. Does a sighted person have a right to walk through the drive through? If so, does that right exist 24/7, or only when the walk-in portion of the restaurant is closed? It appears that a blind person’s access is identical to that of any person who does not possess a car, whether sighted or not, and has the same options as do anyone who does not possess a car.

  • I hope Bob Dole is proud.

  • One could also ban drive-through after hours and require everyone to line up together at the window…

    “Why can’t he eat at that open restaurant a mile down the road. Any idiot can see it. Is he blind or something? (Oh…)”

    Sorry, folks, I still support the blind guy.

  • Night only makes a difference for the photonically dependant folks… The typical blind person can navigate as well with or without light. After all, the typical blind person isn’t using light to navigate… And sound doesn’t change due to the presence or lack of photons. As for clothing, I can’t say that I ever worried about what color clothes I was wearing at night. After all, my cane is wrapped in highly reflective materials and it’s white… and swinging. Only problem I ever had so far was during the day where an older lady backed into my dog (when I had one) and me, not sure anything short of a brass band would have helped there. After all, he was a huge gsd and I’m 6’8″, but she was more interested in traffic than checking to insure that the sidewalk was clear.