Have you heard? The Justice Department recently reached a comprehensive settlement with QuikTrip Corporation, a private company that owns and operates more than 550 gas stations, convenience stores, travel centers and truck stops in the Midwest, South and Southwestern U.S. As a result of the settlement, QuikTrip will, subject to court approval:
- Make necessary modifications at its current stores over a three year period to achieve compliance with ADA accessibility requirements. QuikTrip has retained an independent licensed architect approved by the department to certify compliance with the ADA architectural standards for each of its current stores;
- Design and construct future stores so they comply with the ADA architectural standards and obtain a certification of ADA compliance for each future store from the independent licensed architect or a construction manager who has been trained by the architect on ADA compliance issues;
- Ensure that at least two fueling positions at each of its current stores and all fueling positions at each store opened after the entry of the consent decree are accessible to individuals with disabilities, including the fuel dispenser controls, self-service payment mechanism, call button and amenities. At QuikTrip stores opened after approval of the consent decree, two fuel dispensers will be on the shortest accessible route to the store entrance;
- Adopt, implement and train store employees on policies to ensure fueling and other types of indoor and outdoor assistance for people with disabilities, equal access for individuals who use service animals, and maintaining accessible features, such as accessible parking and routes;
- Ensure and maintain operation of remote notification systems for outdoor assistance after an initial testing and upgrade of notification systems that may take up to six months;
- Implement and maintain an ADA comment line and complaint resolution process and take appropriate corrective actions to resolve ADA-related complaints received from customers;
- Ensure the accessibility of its website, www.quiktrip.com;
- Pay a maximum civil penalty in the amount of $55,000;
- Create a $1.5 million compensatory damages fund to compensate the complainants and other aggrieved persons who make timely claims to the Justice Department. Claims must be received within 180 days of entry of the consent decree by the court.
Why do I bring this case to your attention? Because I want everyone to keep in mind that people with disabilities do drive and just like their non-disabled peers, utilize convenience stores and gas stations. Also, remember that doing what is required by law and what is in essence, the right thing to do, right from the start is always less costly than having to address it “later”.