FYI: Giant Food Inc. and the Disability Rights Council of Greater Washington Enter Agreement Ensuring Greater Access for Persons With Disabilities at Giant Supermarkets
ginettep at seals.org
Tue Aug 31 10:14:29 PDT 1999
Giant Food Inc. and the Disability Rights Council of Greater Washington
Enter Agreement Ensuring Greater Access for Persons With Disabilities at
WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The Disability Rights Council of
Greater Washington (DRC), and Giant Food Inc. (Giant), the area's largest
grocery retailer, announced today a settlement agreement under the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA) in which Giant will take steps to ensure that
persons with disabilities are provided full and equal access to Giant
supermarkets in Washington, Maryland and Virginia. The DRC and Giant hailed
the Agreement as demonstrating the effectiveness of collaborative efforts
between advocacy organizations and responsible businesses to implement the
equal access promise of the ADA.
The Agreement comes after several months of discussions between Giant
the DRC concerning access issues at Giant supermarkets. These discussions
prompted when the DRC approached Giant late last year and presented the
company with the results of a survey the DRC conducted of entrances and
check-out aisles at 163 Giant stores in the greater Washington metropolitan
area that revealed some problems with access at Giant supermarkets. Working
cooperatively and in the spirit of providing unfettered access to Giant's
stores, representatives of Giant and the DRC quickly reached a Memorandum of
Understanding that provides the framework for the Settlement Agreement
Under the Settlement Agreement, Giant agrees:
(1) to make modifications within the next year to store entrances and
check-out aisles to remedy the problems identified in the DRC survey;
(2) to retain an expert accessibility consultant, Marc Mazz, AIA, to
review Giant's architectural plans for new and remodeled stores to ensure
the plans comply with the ADA;
(3) to remove any access barriers in five key areas (the parking lots
serving the stores, the route from the lots to the store entrances, the
electronic cash transaction devices at check-out aisles, salad bars, and the
availability of accessible grocery carts) that Giant identifies in the
it will conduct of its Maryland, Virginia and DC stores that it does not
to remodel by March 2001;
(4) to work with the DRC in modifying, as necessary, Giant's store
policies concerning compliance with ADA;
(5) to promote in a public service advertising program the DRC's mission
of eliminating discrimination against individuals with disabilities; and
(6) to provide monetary support for the DRC's mission, including
reimbursement for the expenses and attorneys' fees incurred by the DRC in
connection with its investigation of Giant's compliance with the ADA and the
negotiation of the Settlement Agreement.
Barry Scher, a Giant Food representative, said, "Giant began a program
make our stores accessible for the disabled in 1975 well before the
with Disabilities Act became law. The Disability Rights Council approached
last year to point out a number of improvements that were needed within our
stores. We are grateful that they did so and welcome their continuing advice
and guidance. It is our goal to make sure that all individuals with
disabilities have full access to shop at our stores. We are pleased to work
with the Disability Rights Council to achieve this goal."
DRC Board Member Marc Fiedler said, "The DRC is delighted to reach this
agreement with Giant. Few things are more important than being able to get
into the neighborhood grocery store. Giant's commitment to ensure that it
complies with the ADA by providing equal access to persons with disabilities
will go far in achieving the objectives of this landmark civil rights law.
Because of Giant's leadership role in the metropolitan Washington business
community, this agreement will also serve as a model for other businesses of
the good that can come from a collaborative effort to fulfill the promise of
the ADA." Fiedler also said that "From the outset of our discussions with
Giant, they displayed an understanding of the importance of equal access and
willingness to find workable solutions to the concerns we raised. The DRC
welcomes Giant's support of the DRC's mission of eliminating discrimination
against all persons with disabilities."
No lawsuit was filed by the DRC against Giant, and in the Settlement
Agreement the DRC releases any claims it may have against Giant.
The DRC is a non-profit membership organization established in 1992
members are persons with disabilities and others who are interested in equal
rights, equal access and equal opportunity for persons with disabilities.
DRC pursues its principal goal -- eliminating discrimination against
individuals with disabilities -- through various means such as public
education, counseling, conciliation, litigation, and research, including
investigations related to architectural barriers to access in public
accommodations. Four years ago, the DRC entered into a settlement agreement
with Safeway Inc., the national grocery chain, under which Safeway agreed to
make structural modifications to its stores in D.C. and to undertake a
compliance program that included a comprehensive ADA accessibility survey of
all its stores across the country.
The Disability Rights Project of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for
Civil Rights and Urban Affairs serves as counsel to the DRC. David S. Cohen
and Jennifer M. O'Connor of the Washington, D.C., law firm of Miller,
Larroca & Lewin, LLP, served as lead counsel in this matter for the DRC.
were joined by Lawyers' Committee attorneys Elaine Gardner and Rod Boggs.
SOURCE Giant Food Inc.
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