After 12 years of legal wrangling, a federal judge has preliminarily approved Taco Bell’s $5.4 million class action settlement with a group of Californians with disabilities after they sued the fast food chain for failing to meet state and federal accessibility requirements.
Timothy Fox, a lawyer with the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, represented the plaintiffs and he’s pleased with the settlement. “We’re very happy,” he says. “It has very good provisions to make sure that Taco Bell restaurants remain in compliance, both ones that are existing corporate restaurants in California and those that were built or acquired during the term of the settlement.”
The suit was filed in 2002 after disabled customers faced architectural barriers in over 200 Taco Bell Corporation-owned restaurants. Barriers included inadequate parking spaces, doors that were too heavy to be opened and ordering lines that were too narrow for wheelchairs.
Under terms of the settlement, Taco Bell must quickly fix remaining access violations, and newly acquired restaurants must become compliant within 120 days. Restaurants will undergo inspection every six months to ensure compliance. Lastly, Taco Bell has agreed to train its employees, engineers, architects, facilities leaders, maintenance technicians and construction managers regarding the chain’s ADA compliance policy.
The settlement only applies to Taco Bell’s corporate-owned restaurants. Fox says he hopes the settlement sends a message to Taco Bell franchises that this case was a successful avenue for achieving access when barriers exist.
Read the whole proposed settlement here.