MIAMI -- (FNS) A group of disabled persons here is pressing Publix Super Markets to disclose its plans for ensuring access by disabled shoppers in current and future stores. The American Association for the Disabled earlier this year filed a suit in U.S. District Court here against the chain, listing nine Publix stores not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The association is now in discussions with Publix, which is based in Lakeland, Fla., to determine how the chain will address the complaint.
William Charouhis, attorney for the group, said the association hopes to settle the case. The suit doesn't seek monetary damages. Instead, it wants Publix management to change some current stores and ensure that new and renovated stores will be ADA-compliant. Charouhis said the association has identified a handful of other stores not in compliance, but that it hopes to reach a settlement with Publix before those are added to the complaint. The association, comprised of about 100 members in the Miami area, will seek class action certification for the suit if it is not settled.
Jennifer Bush, spokeswoman for Publix, said the company's stores are in compliance with the ADA or are "planned for being brought into compliance." "We recently had a productive meeting with the plaintiffs and their lawyers at which we demonstrated our good faith in satisfying all our ADA responsibilities," she said.
But Charouhis said the association is seeking more information. It is pressing for construction schedules for new stores and schedules for stores that will be renovated. "The only way the case will be settled is if we have an agreement on all stores," he said. Charouhis expects another settlement hearing in about two months.
The complaint says the chain has failed to install ramps with appropriate slopes, install handrails, provide an unobstructed route to and throughout its buildings, install the proper amount of telecommunication devices for individuals with hearing impairments and provide the required number of handicapped parking areas.