Taco Bell Franchisor, LLC is facing a proposed class action lawsuit over allegations that the restaurant’s late-night drive-thru-only policy fails to meaningfully accommodate visually impaired customers who are unable to operate motor vehicles at night.
According to the case out of California federal court, many Taco Bell locations offer “late-night hours” after their lobbies close when food can be ordered only at the “drive-thru” window. Taco Bell’s company policy, the case states, forbids pedestrians from ordering at the drive-thru window due to safety concerns, and requires customers be in a car to purchase food. The lawsuit argues that this restriction prohibits those with visual disabilities who are unable to drive from enjoying independent access to the restaurant’s services during late-night hours. From the case:
“As it exists today, the Taco Bell System does not include any policy, procedure, protocols, or infrastructure for assisting, aiding, or serving visually-impaired would-be customers of Taco Bell-branded restaurants when the interiors of those restaurants are closed to the public but while the drive-thrus of those restaurants are still open to the public.”
Whereas sighted customers can independently browse and order food in the drive-thru without assistance, those with visually disabilities “must hope for a companion with a car or paid taxi services” to assist in ordering late-night Taco Bell food, the case stresses.
According to the suit, there are “a variety of modest accommodations” that the defendant could implement to ensure that blind and visually disabled customers have “full and equal access” to Taco Bell’s late-night services. The case contends that Taco Bell’s failure to make such accommodations constitutes discrimination in violation of both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.
The suit seeks a permanent injunction requiring Taco Bell to take necessary steps to ensure its late-night drive-thru restaurants are fully accessible to the blind.