Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sandwich Shop Franchisor Agrees to Make Restaurants Accessible

This posting was written by Pete Reap, editor of CCH Business Franchise Guide.

In a settlement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the franchisor of Subway sandwich shops, Doctors Associates, Inc. (DAI), has agreed to make its franchised restaurants physically accessible to people with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on July 31.

The agreement outlines procedures to make the shops physically accessible to people with disabilities and affects more than 20,000 Subway franchises.

The settlement focuses on the removal of barriers that impair the access of people with disabilities to the restaurants and their services. Where readily achievable, the settlement will ensure access to restroom facilities in the Subway shops.

“People with disabilities should be able to eat at their favorite establishments, and this agreement is designed to improve access to 20,000 Subway shops across the nation,” declared Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I commend DAI for working with us to fashion a practical and effective agreement. We hope that it will serve as a model for other dining establishments so that they will take the steps necessary to serve individuals with disabilities.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the franchisees will be responsible for removing barriers to access and DAI will ensure that their efforts comply. Specifically, they will:

(1) conduct initial architectural surveys to identify barriers;

(2) provide guidance on the ADA requirements and the steps each shop must take to address violations;

(3) revise its operations manual to reflect that the franchisees are required to conduct evaluations and remove barriers and that penalties may be imposed if they do not comply;

(4) provide interest-free loans to franchisees for the purpose of ensuring accessibility; and

(5) use its best efforts to locate accessible buildings in its site selection for future franchises.

Further information concerning the settlement agreement may be obtained by calling the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY) or accessing the ADA Web site at http://www.ada.gov.

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