ST. LOUIS and CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE, May 22, 2003 – Filene’s, a division of The May Department Stores Company, and the Disabilities Rights Center, Inc., announced today that they reached an agreement in a lawsuit concerning three Filene’s stores in New Hampshire – the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, Pheasant Run in Nashua, and The Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester. The lawsuit, originally filed by four persons who are members of the Region Action Committee, a statewide advocacy organization comprised of persons with mobility impairments, had alleged that Filene's was not in compliance with the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Ronald K. Lospennato, the Legal Director of the Disabilities Rights Center, the Protection and Advocacy program for the State of New Hampshire, commended Filene’s for its commitments under this agreement. Commenting on the settlement, Thomas A. Kingsbury, President and Chief Executive Officer of Filene’s, said, “All of us at Filene’s are committed to providing every customer with full access to the merchandise and services offered in our stores. We are pleased to have reached this agreement.”
According to Carol Williams, one of the plaintiffs: “Filene’s has been synonymous with retail in New England for decades. This [settlement] sends an important message to all businesses in this region about the importance and good business sense of making their stores accessible and in helping to fulfill one of the central goals of the ADA-- the integration of all persons with disabilities in fabric of American society." She also added that "This is a win-win for us and Filene’s; we look forward to bringing our business to Filenes."
Under the agreement, which will remain in effect for at least two years, Filene’s has agreed to make enhancements to the aisle widths within its three stores to assure that persons with physical disabilities have access to most of its merchandise. It has also agreed, among other things, bring its bathrooms, fitting rooms, and cash register counters into compliance with the ADA.
Ronald K. Lospennato, Disability Rights Center, Inc. (603) 228-0432
Sharon Bateman, The May Department Stores Company (314) 342-6494