WASHINGTON -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a comprehensive settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with QuikTrip Corp. Under the consent decree, which was filed yesterday along with a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, QuikTrip will create a $1.5 million compensatory damages fund for individuals who were victims of discrimination based on disability, as well as take various steps to make its stores accessible.
The DOJ initially opened the investigation in response to complaints about inaccessible parking by two [image-nocss] individuals with disabilities in the Omaha, Neb., area. The lawsuit filed by the DOJ alleged that the investigation revealed a nationwide pattern and practice of discrimination on the basis of disability. QuikTrip worked with theDOJ to amicably resolve the matter without active litigation.
"QuikTrip has reached an agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve issues relating to the [ADA]," said Mike Thornbrugh, manager of public and government affairs for Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip, in a statement obtained by CSP Daily News.
"Over the last several years, QuikTrip has worked diligently to identify and address many of the mutually agreed upon items in the decree. The fact that we have already begun executing our plan of action helps to simplify and expedite the task at hand, and we are pleased that this agreement falls within the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the ADA. QuikTrip remains committed to providing great facilities and exemplary customer service which provides a positive shopping experience for all of our valued customers," he said.
"Convenience stores and gas stations are a critical part of everyday life in America, and these facilities must afford equal access to individuals with disabilities," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. "QuikTrip has worked cooperatively with the department so we could resolve this case without active litigation and has affirmed its commitment to serving individuals with disabilities by taking the necessary actions to achieve ADA compliance at all of its stores."
Under the settlement, which remains subject to court approval, QuikTrip will:
- Make necessary modifications at its current stores over a three year period to achieve compliance with ADA accessibility requirements. QuikTrip has retained an independent licensed architect approved by the department to certify compliance with the ADA architectural standards for each of its current stores.
- Design and construct future stores so they comply with the ADA architectural standards and obtain a certification of ADA compliance for each future store from the independent licensed architect or a construction manager who has been trained by the architect on ADA compliance issue.
- Ensure that at least two fueling positions at each of its current stores and all fueling positions at each store opened after the entry of the consent decree are accessible to individuals with disabilities, including the fuel dispenser controls, self-service payment mechanism, call button and amenities. At QuikTrip stores opened after approval of the consent decree, two fuel dispensers will be on the shortest accessible route to the store entrance.
- Adopt, implement and train store employees on policies to ensure fueling and other types of indoor and outdoor assistance for people with disabilities, equal access for individuals who use rvice animals, and maintaining accessible features, such as accessible parking and routes.
- Ensure and maintain operation of remote notification systems for outdoor assistance after an initial testing and upgrade of notification systems that may take up to six months.
- Implement and maintain an ADA comment line and complaint resolution process and take appropriate corrective actions to resolve ADA-related complaints received from customers.
- Ensure the accessibility of its website, www.quiktrip.com.
- Pay a maximum civil penalty in the amount of $55,000.
- Create a $1.5 million compensatory damages fund to compensate the complainants and other aggrieved persons who make timely claims to the Justice Department. Claims must be received within 180 days of entry of the consent decree by the court. The consent decree was reached under Title III of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by businesses that are open to the public, including gas stations, convenience stores and other retailers, both large and small.
QuikTrip, a private company that owns and operates more than 550 gas stations, convenience stores, travel centers and truckstops in the U.S. Midwest, South and Southwest,has stores in nine statesArizona, Illinois, Iowa, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.