The Hollister clothing store in the Colorado Park Meadows shopping mall was recently cited by a local judge for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing adequate access for individuals who use wheelchairs. Wheelchair accessibility is a major concern for shoppers with physical disabilities, and violations of the ADA can often go unpunished. This was not the case in Colorado when the US District Judge Wiley Daniel ruled that the store was in clear violation of the ADA.
This ruling comes after two years of legal wrangling between Colorado residents and the Hollister stores, which are a brand owned by Abercrombie & Fitch Co. Five wheelchair users and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition took on the clothing giant in a lawsuit in 2009, citing that the store did not provide clear wheelchair accessible entrances. The wheelchair users claimed discrimination because the main entrances to the store were not wheelchair accessible. The main entrances were built to resemble porches with steps leading up to the doors.
The filers of the lawsuit claimed that the entrances violated the ADA because these main entrances were not on ground level and had to be accessed by taking steps. According to the law, all main entrances must be equally accessible to individuals with and without disabilities, and entrances cannot be “segregated” or split into disabled and non-disabled access.
The stores claimed that they were following the law by providing wheelchair accessible entrances at the side of the building, to either side of the main porch entrances. Hollister also claimed that these accessible doors were not separate from the main entrances and that they were used by the general public as well as individuals with disabilities.
The judge ruled that the Hollister stores did violated the ADA by not providing equal access to all and by segregating their disabled entrances. According to the Denver Post, the judge stated that the clothing store “took a micro view” which allowed them to comply with details in the regulations without taking the aims of the ADA to heart and fulfill its “overarching aims.” Judge Daniel told the Denver Post, “To say that the issue of which door is used by the majority of customers is a genuine issue of fact ignores the obvious.”
For continued reading, this is an interesting first-person take on navigating a different Hollister store from a wheelchair: