Five Guys burger chain in a pickle over website inaccessibility

Monday, 14 August 2017 19:17pm

On 21 July 2017, a US federal district court in Manhattan rejected a ‘motion to dismiss’ claim by the ‘Five Guys’ burger chain (Case No. 17-cv-788) defending their alleged inaccessible website. The judge found that there is indeed a case of discrimination to answer against a legally-blind customer who couldn’t order the burger they wanted from the fast food seller’s site.

A ‘Five Guys’ burger with beef and cheese

A ‘Five Guys’ burger with beef and cheese.

The ‘Five Guys’ at the heart of this upcoming court hearing in the US is a hand-crafted burger brand that makes a big deal about being able to customise their range of burgers so that everyone gets the hamburger they’d like – allowing patrons to place online food orders for delivery or pick-up.

Yet the lady who filed the legal action was unable to order the cheeseburger she wanted online. She tried repeatedly to add pickles, ketchup and onions to her burger, yet due to software limitations on the website, all customisation was inaccessible to her screen reader.

The plaintiff filed the action on behalf of herself as well as all blind and vision-impaired people who attempt to access the Five Guys website in the US, but encounter website accessibility issues. Indeed, she alleged that by not allowing her the same flexibility of ordering the type of food she would like, as regular-sighted people can, ‘Five Guys’ violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as New York State and New York City civil rights laws.

The ADA in the USA has similar provisions and aims as the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) in Australia, which aims to promote equal opportunity and access for people with disability. The Australian Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, publicly available premises, the provision of goods and services, and a number of other contexts.

The New York Court was unpersuaded by the ‘Five Guys’ legal argument, and made an initial determination that accepted the plaintiff’s factual allegations as true, and that she was denied “a full and equal opportunity to enjoy the services that the company provides through its website.”

As both parties move to the next phase of litigation, ‘Five Guys’ has voluntarily chosen to overhaul aspects of its US website to try and fix the alleged accessibility glitch.

See other recent website inaccessible news items: More companies being sued for website inaccessibility; US restaurant chain has trouble on the menu; Website inaccessibility court cases on the rise; AmeriServ Financial Bank being sued after Judge rules their inaccessible website is discriminatory; The Mortgage Industry's Next Headache: Website Accessibility; Florida Courts rule that the ADA covers websites with a connection to a physical store.

For more information and/or to order a web accessibility audit to find out if your organisation’s website is accessible and not excluding sections of the community, email Media Access Australia at info@mediaaccess.org.au

 


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