A Steak ‘N Shake manager refused to serve Karen Putz, a deaf mother of three, after she asked to place her order at the drive-thru window as allowed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The manager claimed it was “policy” to force Karen to order like any other customer:
“You’ll have to drive around again so I can take your order through the speaker,” the guy said.
“I can’t hear back there, so I’ll need you to take my order here,” I explained.
“No, it’s our policy. You’ll have to just drive around and tell me your order and then I can take your order.”
“I can’t use the speaker, which is why I’m at the window giving you my order here!” I started raising my voice a little, as I was getting frustrated at the hoops he was putting me through.
So I told him about the Americans with Disabilities Act and I explained that taking orders through the window is an accommodation that I need because I can’t use the speaker to place an order.
He kept insisting that orders need to be taken at the speaker. “If you had just let me know at the speaker that you needed accommodations then I could take your order through the window.”
“But I’m DEAF! I can’t hear on the speaker! When I drove up, the first thing that I told you was that I couldn’t order back there because I can’t hear through the speaker.”
“No, you didn’t tell me that,” he said. “If you had told me about your disability then I could have accommodated you.”
I sat there flabbergasted. I was getting more upset by the minute. All I wanted was the dang shakes! Then another car pulled up behind us.
“Look, if you’re not going to take my order, I’m going to file a complaint and let the corporate office know about this.”
“Well, I can call the cops on you for disrupting the business and holding up the drive thru.”
“You’re going to call the cops on me? I’m just trying to get service here!”
“I’m done with you.” He abruptly shut the window, threw up his hands and walked away.
Steak ‘N Shake’s corporate overlords have apologized to Karen and asked to arrange meeting with the thoughtless manager. Karen wants the manager to apologize, which given the circumstance, is quite reasonable. A few free milkshakes wouldn’t hurt either.