Settlement Agreement between the United States of America and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act
On January 16, 2009, the Civil Rights Division entered into a settlement agreement with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to improve access for persons with disabilities at Wal-Mart stores nationwide. The agreement resolves an investigation that was initiated after the Department received several complaints alleging that Wal-Mart had refused to make reasonable modifications to its rules, policies, practices, and procedures for customers with disabilities in violation of Title III of the ADA. Many of the complaints alleged that persons with disabilities were denied access to Wal-Mart stores or were denied an equal opportunity to shop, free of repeated challenges by Wal-Mart staff, because they were accompanied by service animals. Service animals are dogs and other animals that are individually trained to work or perform tasks for persons with disabilities.
The settlement agreement covers all facilities located in the United States where Wal-Mart sells any good or service to members of the public, including all Wal-Mart stores, Supercenters, Sam's Clubs, and Neighborhood Markets. The settlement agreement, which will be effective for three years, requires Wal-Mart to take several steps to improve access for customers with disabilities, including:
Under the settlement agreement, Wal-Mart will also pay $150,000 into a fund to compensate certain individuals with disabilities who filed administrative complaints with the Department alleging Wal-Mart's refusal to make reaonable modifications, including the denial of equal access to persons with disabilities who use service animals. The Civil Rights Division will determine which complainants are to receive damages from the fund and the amount of damages to be received.
In furtherance of the public interest, Wal-Mart will also pay an additional $100,000 into a fund that will be used by the Civil Rights Division to finance a public service announcement campaign to increase public awareness of the access rights of persons with disabilities who use service animals. The nature and scope of the public service announcement campaign will be determined by the Civil Rights Division.
The settlement agreement is posted on the Department of Justice's ADA Home Page at http://www.ada.gov.
January 23, 2009