July 26 marked the 17th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, so it seems only fitting that the Department of Justice should come to a settlement agreement at just this time with Doctor Associated Inc., the parent corporation of Subway Sandwich Shops, which is responsible for issuing the Subway franchises.
The agreement states specific steps that Doctor Associated and the franchise owners must put into place at all the Subway Shops in the United States. Both the corporation and the individual franchise owners have their own responsibilities that must be met under the Americans with Disabilities Act at every one of the 20,000 Subway Shops across the country.
According to the agreement, the Subway Shops must be made physically accessible to all people with disabilities by removing any barriers that would restrict access to a disabled person, by making sure that people with disabilities have use of all the services available including restrooms.
Because the individual Subway shops are franchisees, and thereby individually owned business, the agreement is different than it would be with a corporation that would actually be the owner of the individual restaurants. It is expected and hoped that this agreement will be the benchmark by which other franchise operations will be judged and those who are not already in compliance will look to this agreement to guide them without the Department of Justice having to intervene.
It is the responsibility of Doctor Associated to organize and facilitate the efforts that will bring the shops into compliance and it is the responsibility of the individual shops to actually remove any barriers. In order to accomplish, Doctor Associated will conduct the initial architectural surveys, provide guidance to the individual owners regarding the requirements and to lay out the steps that each particular store must follow to eliminate any violations that the survey uncovered. They must also revise the operations manual that they issue to the individual owners to include the fact that the shops will be required to conduct evaluations and to remove barriers. The manual must also state what penalties the shops
will have to pay if they do not comply. The corporation must also provide interest free loans to the individual owners to be used to bring them into compliance and also, when looking for sites for future shops, try to pick a location that is already handicapped accessible.
The Department of Justice did commend Doctor Associated for the way they cooperated in putting together the agreement. There is no time frame set forth in the announcement as to when the shops must be in full compliance.
Source” The Justice Department http://www.justice.gov/