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DEPARTMENT STORE CHAIN AGREES WITH THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO BECOME ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES WASHINGTON, D.C. -- People with disabilities in eight western states will now have full access to 31 Gibson's Discount Centers, a discount department store chain, under an agreement reached today with the Justice Department. The agreement, which still must be approved by the U.S. District Court in Wichita, Kansas, resolves a complaint filed with the Justice Department alleging that the department chain violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The complaint claimed the stores lacked parking spaces, restrooms, and checkout aisles that are accessible to people with disabilities. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by public accommodations, such as department stores. It requires businesses to remove architectural barriers to access when it is "readily achievable," or can be done without much difficulty or expense. The law also requires that any construction or alterations comply with certain federal guidelines if they are completed after the law went into effect in January 1992. "In rural areas entire communities depend on stores like Gibson's for the necessities of daily life," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. "People with disabilities in these rural areas will now have access to those things that others take for granted." Under the agreement, Gibson's will: ​ make all of its stores fully accessible by providing accessible parking, restrooms, and checkout aisles; ​ ensure that entrances to each of its stores are accessible and build at least one accessible fitting room in every store; and, ​ pay $15,000 in compensatory damages to the complainant and $30,000 in civil penalties to the U.S. Treasury. "We are committed to enforcing the law and hope that all businesses will voluntarily take steps to make their facilities accessible," added Patrick. "We hope all businesses understand the importance of the ADA to the lives of real people." In a complaint filed together with today's settlement, the Justice Departmnet alleged the chain failed to make its facilities accessible and made inaccessible alterations to several of its stores after the ADA went into effect. Gibson's are located in the following states: Colorado (11), Kansas (8), Montana (3), Nebraska (3), and Texas (3), New Mexico (1), Oklahoma (1) and South Dakota (1). Last year Attorney General Janet Reno launched a national campaign to educate Americans about their rights and obligations under the ADA. She is committed to reaching out to businesses to urge voluntary compliance with the law. The campaign, which included television and radio public service announcement, advertises a toll-free ADA Information Line. The number is 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD). Gibson's are located in the following states: Colorado (11), Kansas (8), Montana (3), Nebraska (3), and Texas (3), New Mexico (1), Oklahoma (1) and South Dakota (1). # # # 95-136