US retail large faces authorized motion over new face protecting rule – Incapacity Information Service
Disabled activists have urged a multinational retailer to urgently withdraw a “wholly unacceptable” policy banning disabled people from their stores, who are not allowed to wear face covers.
The American retail giant is now facing legal action from disabled people after introducing a new policy two days before Christmas that would only allow customers to enter the store if they are wearing a face mask or face shield.
This replaces an earlier directive that provided an exception to the face protection directive if the customer was unable to wear one due to a state of health according to legal requirements.
Louie Silveira, Costco’s Vice President and Country Manager for the UK and Iceland, said in an announcement on the company’s website on Dec. 23, “This is no longer the case.
“If a member / guest has an illness that prevents them from wearing a mask, they must wear a face shield instead.”
He added, “While this updated policy may seem impractical to some, we believe the added security is well worth the inconvenience.”
But disabled activists and lawyers say this new policy is illegal.
In November, the Disability News Service reported that tech giant Apple had faced multiple legal cases brought by disabled people who were kicked out of their stores for not wearing face masks, despite the government claiming they were exempt from the rules.
The UK Government’s coronavirus guidance – applying in England – to the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government makes it clear that people who are unable to wear face coverings due to impairment do not have to do so when visiting shops and other service providers, and this is also do not need to provide evidence of their exemption.
Despite these rules, retailers and service providers like Costco continue to prevent disabled customers from entering their premises if they cannot wear face covering.
One of the victims who are seeking legal action against Costco through discrimination lawyers Fry Law is Marco Naayem (pictured), who lives in southwest London and has invisible physical impairments, as well as severe allergies and asthma that mean he cannot wear one Face covering.
Last summer, he was denied entry to his local Costco office in Croydon, despite the company policy at the time allowing medical exemptions.
He later had to queue for more than 45 minutes to enter the store – another apparent violation of the Equal Opportunities Act – despite showing a photo of his blue parking permit to employees at the entrance.
He said the new policy, which he learned about by email shortly before Christmas, was “outrageous”.
He said, “It will cause me all kinds of problems. I don’t see how they got away with it.
“You tried to take the law into your own hands. It’s just ridiculous. “
He will now be forced to travel regularly to supermarkets to purchase items that he would normally buy in bulk from Costco.
Fazilet Hadi, UK Head of Disability Rights Policy, said: “Costco’s policy of banning disabled people from their premises from wearing face covers / shields is totally unacceptable.
“It violates government regulations that some disabled people cannot wear face coverings due to breathing difficulties, learning difficulties or mental illnesses.
“Not making adequate adjustments for disabled people who cannot wear face coverings [or] Shields are also illegal under the Equal Opportunities Act.
“We would like to ask Costco to consider the Commission’s guidelines on equality and human rights for retailers and urgently withdraw this discriminatory policy.”
Stuart White, an advisor to Fry Law who has a number of clients keen to take legal action against Costco over the policy change, said Costco had “openly disregarded state facial coverage guidelines by excluding exempt customers”.
He said the company “misled customers” by telling them the exemptions no longer apply and “clearly violated the 2010 Equal Opportunities Act”.
Costco had not responded to a request for comment as of noon today (Thursday).
Fry Law has a free template letter that can be downloaded from his website for anyone needing to file a face mask complaint.
A survey has also been started to find out how widespread the problem is.
* For information and support during the Coronavirus Crisis, please visit the DNS Advice and Information page
A note from the editor:
Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and continue to produce independent, carefully researched news that focuses on the lives and rights of people with disabilities and their user-led organizations.
Please don’t contribute if you can’t afford it and be aware that DNS is not a charity. It is run by the disabled journalist John Pring and has been owned since its inception in April 2009.
Thank you for everything you can do to help DNS work.
Comments are closed.