PROVIDENCE – Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC has entered into a settlement agreement with the United States, requiring it to undertake steps to address accessibility issues at check-out aisles at all of its 400 stores and bring them into compliance with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), announced United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Stephen G. Dambruch.
This agreement to address accessibility compliance issues follows an investigation and findings by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island under Title III of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation. Although it is a private entity, Stop & Shop’s grocery stores are places of “public accommodation” within the meaning of Title III of the ADA.
The Government’s investigation resulted from a complaint by a Rhode Island resident that, in three local supermarkets, Stop & Shop failed to (a) provide an adequate number of accessible check-out aisles; (b) keep open at least one accessible staffed check-out aisle during store hours; and (c) have credit card readers in accessible check-out aisles that are located at an accessible height for customers who use wheelchairs.
The United States’ investigation determined that Stop & Shop failed to keep at least one staffed accessible check-out aisle open during store hours at multiple Rhode Island locations. The investigation also determined that many Stop & Shop locations in Rhode Island did not fully comply with technical requirements of the ADA. During the course of the investigation, Stop & Shop made voluntary modifications to the accessible check-out aisles and credit card readers at all 26 of its Rhode Island stores.
Under the Settlement Agreement between the United States Attorney’s Office and Stop & Shop, Stop & Shop is obligated to take steps at all of its stores, in Rhode Island and across the country, to improve access to its check-out aisles for individuals with disabilities. Stop & Shop has also agreed to revise its policies, procedures, and training, and to perform audits of all of its grocery stores nationwide. Stop & Shop currently operates more than 400 stores throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.
As part of the settlement, Stop & Shop has also agreed to pay $6,500 to the Complainant and a $25,000 civil penalty to resolve this matter.
The investigation and resolution were handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy R. Romero and United States Attorney’s Office investigator David Neill.