Starbucks Class Action Alleges ADA Counter Height Violations

This lawsuit alleges that Starbucks Coffee standard store designs included counter heights that were too high for individuals sitting in wheelchairs, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and state civil rights act protections.

The Starbucks Corp. (SBUX), the world's biggest coffee-shop chain, owns, operates, and licenses stores in California and around the world.

California residents Timothy Vondersaar, Orlandis Hardy Jr., Jaarome Wilson and Bernard Taruc are disabled and use wheelchairs for mobility.   They filed suit against Starbucks in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in June of 2012, on behalf of themselves and other individuals who use a wheelchair or electric scooter, claiming an unspecified number of Starbucks California locations feature pick-up counters that are too high for them to reach, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12181 et seq. (ADA) and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 51 et seq. (Unruh Act).

The complaint alleges that, prior to 2003, Starbucks used standard design plans that included impermissibly high pick-up counters at every store in California and that as of June 2012; approximately 200 California stores continue to utilize unlawfully high counters. The complaint also claims that every store Starbucks opened in the United States between 1993 and October 2003 contained an impermissibly high counter. The counters in the store standard design were higher than 36 inches, or the ADA-required height for accessibility by persons using wheelchairs, according to the complaint.  They allege that thousands of stores across the country still have high counters, and specifically identify fifty such stores in California, some of which the named parties have personally visited.

The suit seeks certification of a nationwide class comprised of all disabled wheelchair and scooter users who have been adversely affected by high handoff counters in Starbucks stores constructed between January 26, 1993 and 2005, as well as a similar California class under the Unruh Act. The ADA claim forms the basis for the state Unruh Act alleged violations that also provide statutory penalties and injunctive relief.  The complaint requests the court to certify the class, to order Starbucks to pay at least $4,000 for each inaccessible, non-compliant counter, and to reduce the height of high handoff counters in Starbucks stores.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Starbucks ADA Counter Height Order Denying Class Certification

February 12, 2015

In the class action alleging that Starbucks counter heights violate the provisions of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), the judge has denied certification of the proposed class. 

starbucks_ada_order_counter_hight.pdf

Case Event History

Starbucks ADA Counter Height Order Denying Class Certification

February 12, 2015

In the class action alleging that Starbucks counter heights violate the provisions of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), the judge has denied certification of the proposed class. 

starbucks_ada_order_counter_hight.pdf
Tags: Accessibility, Disability Discrimination