FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WEDNESDAY, JUNE 3, 1998

CR

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REACHES A SETTLEMENT WITH

MENARD BUILDING CENTERS UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Customers with vision impairments at a Wisconsin-based retail building supply chain will not be required to produce a driver's license when paying with a check, under an agreement reached today with the Justice Department. The agreement resolves a complaint filed last year with the Justice Department by a woman who is legally blind against Menard Building Center. The woman alleged that one of Menard's stores violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it refused to accept her state-issued identification card when she purchased items with a check. The complainant, like many individuals with visual impairments, does not have a driver's license because of her disability. Instead, the state issued her a non-driver identification card. According to her complaint, the staff at a Menard store in Milwaukee refused to accept her check because she had a state ID rather than a driver's license. She alleged store staff insulted her, and called her husband over to produce his driver's license before the store would accept the complainant's check. Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations, including retail stores, to reasonably modify their policies when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the services provided. Acceptance of a state ID from a person whose disability prevents them from having a driver's license is a reasonable modification of a general policy requiring a driver's license when paying by check. Under the agreement Menard will: continue its policy of accepting state ID cards as identification for check writing purposes from persons who do not drive because of their disabilities;

train all employees at all of its stores on the check-writing policy;

post signs at all cash registers informing customers that state ID cards will be accepted as identification

for check writing purposes from persons who do not drive because of their disabilities; and,

pay the complainant $1,000 in damages.

"It makes no sense to demand a driver's license from a customer who is legally blind. It's not just bad business, it's discrimination," said Bill Lann Lee, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "We hope other retail businesses will take note of this agreement and ensure that persons with disabilities are treated fairly." In 1993, the Justice Department sued Venture Stores, Inc., a large midwestern discount store chain because it would not accept state-issued IDs under its check-writing policy. That case was settled through a consent decree similar to the Menard settlement. The Justice Department also reached a similar settlement with Marquee Video in Washington state in 1994. Individuals or retail businesses who wish to learn more about the ADA are encouraged to contact the Justice Department's ADA technical assistance hotline at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TDD) or to access the ADA Internet home page at (http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom.1.htm). ###

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