Ignorance is Not Bliss
by Janice C. - Posted Thu August 14, 2008 @ 5:35 PM
I'm absolutely amazed that so many posters here think the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) is optional. It isn't.
I don't think the truck driver made a conscious choice to discriminate against the disabled, but he did so when he parked his truck across the handicapped parking spaces. I think he either didn't care or it wasn't convenient neither of which justifies where he parked. And, as I pointed out in my original post, there were other places large enough for the driver to park his truck, but he chose to discriminate by blocking access.
There also seems to be widespread ignorance about enforcement of the ADA. Enforcement of the ADA is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Justice, not local or state law enforcement agencies.
A local police officer does not have the authority to require the driver to move the truck unless the store owner/manager asks that the truck be moved. It is up to the store owner/manager and the trucking company (which owns it) to enforce the ADA because the truck is on private property. If they don't, then the only recourse people have is to document the situation and file charges under the ADA.
If I had used the drive-through to ask that the truck be moved, I could be charged with trespass by that same police officer because I was not using the drive-through to order food, which is the purpose of the drive-through, not registering complaints.
I don't have the legal right to be on the store's property if I am not ordering/buying/eating food from the store. Trying to enforce a law by breaking another isn't right or legal, and this is one of the things that the DOJ constantly stresses to the disabled community.
DOJ tells the disabled who have experienced discrimination to walk away from the situation and file charges under the ADA. Instead of filing charges against McDonald's, I took a more benign approach of notifying the company of this problem, without taking the legal steps that can result in fines, mediation and/or closure of the store.
All legal contractors and/or franchises of a company are required, as part of their contract with the company, to uphold the non-discrimination policies of the company. McDonald's contracts have such a clause. Since the local McDonald's is either a franchise or company-owned store, it is the responsibility of McDonald's to make sure that their contractors are in compliance. A similar situation exists with the trucking firm.
For those that think that discriminating against the disabled is okay, I hope you get to experience it directly yourself one day. As for those of you who think I should have made an extra effort to notify the manager, a friend of mine did exactly that one week after I first reported this store. The store manager's response? "If some cripple doesn't like where he has to park, he should go someplace else!"
Many groups, such as social service agencies and disabled rights groups, partner with the DOJ in holding ADA training seminars for both business owners/operators and private citizens. I've been a volunteer trainer. If you don't understand the ADA, then take the time to learn about it.