In two separate ADA class action lawsuits, plaintiff Lucia Marett is respectively accusing chain restaurants Boston Market and Ruby Tuesday of failing to accommodate their retail websites to the needs of blind persons.
She alleges the defendants’ websites violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the civil rights laws of New York State and New York City.
Marett herself is blind. According to her Boston Market and Ruby Tuesday class action lawsuits, persons like her meet the definition of legal blindness if their corrected visual acuity is less than or equal to 20 by 200. She says around 2 million persons in the U.S. are legally blind.
Marett says she cannot use a computer without the help of screen reader software, which reads aloud the information displayed on a computer screen. Websites must be designed in such a way that does not prevent this software from working properly, she claims.
The Web Accessibility Initiative publishes guidelines for web developers to promote accessibility for blind persons using this software. Elements like headings, appending alt-text to graphics, and ensuring all functions can be performed via keyboard as well as a mouse all contribute to accessibility for blind users, the class actions state.
These design elements are readily accessible and are employed on other retailers’ websites, Marett says.
However, Boston Market and Ruby Tuesday allegedly fail to employ the same accessible technology on their own websites. Both restaurants render their websites with an exclusively visual interface, she says. According to the lawsuits, blind individuals must therefore rely on help from sighted persons to use these websites.
Among other alleged failings, Marett says Boston Market’s website uses inaccessible pop-up windows and requires use of a mouse to complete transactions. The images on Ruby Tuesday’s website allegedly have no alt-text that would allow a screen reader to describe the image. The alleged barriers have prevented Marett from purchasing gift cards on both the defendants’ websites, she claims.
Marett’s Boston Market and Ruby Tuesday class action lawsuits come a little over a week after she filed similar claims against Red Lobster. She alleges her attempt to buy a $100 gift card through the Red Lobster website fell flat due to the site’s lack of accessibility features.
In her Boston Market and Ruby Tuesday actions, Marett seeks to represent plaintiff Classes consisting of all legally blind individuals in the U.S. who have unsuccessfully attempted to use the Boston Market and Ruby Tuesday websites during the relevant statute of limitations period.
She is asking the court to order Boston Market and Ruby Tuesday to revise their websites so that they can be used by blind persons. She also seeks an award of damages, court costs and attorneys’ fees, with interest.
Marett is represented by attorney C.K. Lee and Anne Seelig of Lee Litigation Group PLLC.
The Boston Market ADA Class Action Lawsuit is Lucia Marett v. Boston Market Corp., Case No. 1:16-cv-09216, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The Ruby Tuesday ADA Class Action Lawsuit is Lucia Marett v. Ruby Tuesday Inc., Case No. 1:16-cv-09220, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.