By: Dianna Albini & Christopher Dolan
Jordan V. asks
Q: “My medical condition falls within a class of persons at greater risk for contracting COVID-19 and I have a doctor’s letter documenting this risk. I went to a nationwide grocery store chain during hours designed for high risk shoppers. The store manager refused to give me access, despite my showing the manager the letter my doctor provided. Were my rights violated?
A: Jordan, thank you for asking an important question.
The Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications.
The specific facts you have described — that despite showing the store manager your medical documentation, you were arbitrarily refused entrance during special hours set aside to shop for a limited number of individuals at high risk for contracting COVID-19 — would be a violation of your rights pursuant to the ADA.
If you feel you experienced discrimination based on a medical condition in violation of Title III, Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities you should contact an attorney experienced in disability rights to explore your rights and discrimination with the following federal, state and local agencies: