Walmart Is Sued by Blind Customers Over Its Self-Service Accessibility
Major retailer is told its kiosks aren't fully accessible to visually impaired consumers after account theft
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and three plaintiffs are suing Walmart, alleging the major retailer’s self-checkout kiosks aren’t fully accessible to its visually impaired customers — and therefore are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The three blind residents of Maryland, according to The Baltimore Sun, were named in the October 25 federal lawsuit.
One of the three is a woman who claims an employee of a Walmart in Owings Mills, Maryland, selected the cash-back option at a kiosk — and secretly took out $40 from her account without her knowledge.
In addition to a declaration saying Walmart violated the American Disabilities Act, the plaintiffs are demanding a permanent order to bring the kiosks fully in line with regulations.
“The real problem is that Walmart has decided to treat blind customers differently from sighted customers,” Mark A. Riccobono, president of the NFB, alleged in a statement about the suit. NFB is based in Baltimore, Maryland.
“Walmart’s refusal to deploy readily available technology to give blind shoppers the same choice sighted shoppers have — whether to check ourselves out or visit a cashier — makes us second-class customers. That is unlawful and unacceptable.”
The multinational retail corporation said in its own statement it does not tolerate discrimination — and that it believes its checkout procedures do, in fact, comply with the law.
However, it said it investigated the $40 theft — and noted that the employee involved in the incident no longer works at the store.
The lawsuit says NFB tried to work with Walmart to address problems before filing the suit.
Blind woman sues Walmart… https://t.co/RxtFHtPahW
— Sweet Louis T (@sweetlouist) October 29, 2018
A blind couple says a Walmart employee who helped them with self checkout unknowingly requested $40 in cash back and then took it. https://t.co/QtScQqKyAb
— News Talk KSGF (@NewsTalkKSGF) October 29, 2018
— News 5 Cleveland (@WEWS) October 28, 2018
wow, how low can you go……. stealing from a blind person. @Walmart hiring practices come into play and show show hired have no scruples or integrity when dealing with disabled persons. How many times has this happened and not reported. #Walmart https://t.co/oIocGvtyOg
— Carl Toersbijns🖤 ⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 🦂 (@carltoersbijns) October 29, 2018
The suit alleges that back in July 2017, Cynthia Morales and her boyfriend, Linwood Boyd, who are both blind, were at the self-checkout lane at the Owings Mills Walmart when they asked an employee to help them, as KGUN.9 noted.
While the self-serve kiosks do issue a few spoken prompts, it was still a challenge, apparently, for the couple to check out and complete their transaction.
A Walmart employee assisted the pair with their purchase — but the worker pocketed the $40.
Since “no audio prompt” let them know about the total, the couple were unaware this had happened until a machine told them to take the cash.
Shares of the retail giant have been climbing since early October, as Investor’s Business Daily reported — “which is counter to the slide happening in the broader market … Walmart’s 50-day moving average in September crossed above its 200-day line.”
Walmart’s stock rose 0.9 percent to 99.80 on the stock market today, the same publication reported.
Back in August, Walmart said its sales were at their strongest level in more than a decade.
That was a significant economic indicator, as more than 40 percent of the nation’s population walks through the retail giant’s doors at least once a week.
“Major U.S. companies, including Walmart and Cisco, are confirming the positive macro data by posting their best financial results in many years. The reports indicate broad-based strength in the domestic economy,” CNBC, the business cable news network, reported in August.
Walmart said its same-store sales growth during the second quarter of 2018 was the highest it’s seen in more than a decade, with digital sales also up 40 percent for the period.