Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hearing impaired woman sues McDonald's over drive-thru

From The Associated Press July 15:

OMAHA, Neb. - A hearing-impaired woman has filed a federal lawsuit against a local McDonald's, saying workers there refused to let her order food at the drive-thru window.

Karen Tumeh of Lincoln says they insisted she either order at the electronic speaker along the drive-thru lane or come inside to order.

Tumeh wears a hearing aid but still cannot hear while using the drive-thru ordering box at fast-food restaurants, according to the lawsuit.At least three times since September 2007 workers at a Lincoln McDonald's refused to let her place her order at the drive-thru window, Tumeh said.

In denying her service, McDonald's violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, she said.

Tumeh's lawsuit seeks to force McDonald's to make accommodations for hearing-impaired people to order food in restaurant drive-thrus. She also seeks unspecified damages and attorney's fees.

McDonald's corporate headquarters did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Tumeh is physically capable of walking inside to order, but that's not the point, her attorney, Shirley Ann Mora James, said Tuesday.

"She has children who are autistic, and if they're having difficulties, it would make it problematic for her," Mora James said. "It's not appropriate for a hearing-impaired person to be forced to go inside because of their disability, when ... other drive-thru, fast-food restaurants have a policy to allow deaf and hard-of-hearing people to order at the drive-thru window."

Other McDonald's restaurants in Lincoln have accommodated Tumeh, Mora James

"We have attempted to resolve this on many occasions and have unfortunately been unable to resolve this," Mora James said. "So we were forced into litigation."