Deaf Customer Sues Taco Bell For Discrimination, Claims She Was Denied Service

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A New Jersey woman is suing Taco Bell for discrimination, claiming that she was denied service at two separate drive-thru locations because she’s deaf.

According to the lawsuit filed in the United States District Court of New Jersey this week, the woman claims she was discriminated against “and treated rudely” at two separate locations when she wrote down her order and passed it to employees at the pick-up window.

The woman claims she was “berated” by a manager before receiving her food at one location on Jan. 11. Then on March 15, her lawsuit says she attempted to use the drive-thru at another spot but was refused service entirely without any communication from the staff.

“Through this discriminatory treatment, she learned not only that Taco Bell restaurants are inaccessible to deaf individuals, but that Taco Bell employees and managers are inadequately trained and improperly informed about the communication rights and needs of deaf people,” a representative for the customer said in a statement provided to Eater.

The lawsuit says Taco Bell violated the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, which says businesses are required to provide goods and services and “make reasonable accommodations” for individuals with disabilities. She also references the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which again, says businesses can’t deny service to those with disabilities. She’s seeking a jury trial and compensatory and punitive damages.

“Deaf individuals have a legal and moral right to be treated respectfully and as equals in our society,” said attorneys for the plaintiff, Eric Baum and Andrew Rozynski, as well as Sheryl Eisenberg-Michalowski, deaf liason, of Eisenberg & Baum Law Center For The Deaf and Hard of Hearing in a statement to Consumerist. “Our client has brought this lawsuit not only to redress the discrimination that already occurred, but to ensure that she and any other Deaf individuals that seek access to drive thrus do not fear that they will be refused service.”

A Taco Bell spokesperson told Consumerist that the company has not yet been served with the lawsuit, so there is no comment at this time.

“However, Taco Bell has a fundamental policy to respect all of our customers and employees, and we are committed to maintaining an environment free of discrimination or harassment,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We do not tolerate discrimination in any form, and we have a strong policy to provide accessible service to all of our customers and fans.”

Deaf Customer Sues Taco Bell for Discrimination [Eater]