US BANK OPERATES IN VIOLATION OF THE DISABILITY ACCESS LAWS
A client of mine who is reliant on a wheelchair for mobility complained about his local US Bank branch not having a lowered teller window. My client complained to the manager. The branch manager did not offer to move the conversation to a different location, he just looked down on my client over the raised teller counter and told my client that decisions regarding how the branch is configured are made at a higher level and that was out of his control.
My client called me and we sued US Bank. US Bank’s attorney said, “we have an accessible teller window.” US Bank did have lowered counters, but there was no signage, no equipment (computer, cash drawer, etc.) and, even after my client complaining, no one pointed these counters out as the “accessible” teller windows.
After my client filed suit, US Bank implemented a practice offering to perform the transaction at the lowered counter area. The attorney for US Bank was indignant to my assertion that US Bank has a requirement to staff the accessible teller window during all business hours. However, the law is clear on this.
US Bank and all retail banking locations have a legal obligation to (1) have a sign that identifies the accessible transaction area and declares it to be open at all times and (2) to keep that accessible location area open at all times.
Under both the ADAAG and the California Building Code, a bank must provide an accessible transaction counter [ADAAG § 7.2; CBC § 1122B.5]. Under the California Building Code, banks are in the category called “Group B Occupancies.” (CBC § 1105B.3.1(3)). Under this section of the Code, it states, “In addition to the requirements of this section, all areas used for business transactions with the public shall comply with Sections 1110B.1, Sales, and 1122B, Fixed or Built-in Seating, Tables, and Counters.” (CBC § 1105B.3.1(4)). Section 1110B.1 “Sales” addresses, inter alia, what the CBC calls “Check stands,” which is defined as “including service counters requiring a surface transaction.” (CBC § 1110B.1.3)). Under this section of the CBC, not only must there be an accessible service counter but these counters “shall always be open to customers with disabilities and shall be identified by a sign clearly visible to those in wheelchairs. The sign shall display the International Symbol of Accessibility in white on a blue background and shall state: ‘This check stand to be open at all times for customers with disabilities’.” (Ibid.) Thus, the law is clear that a bank must: (1) have an accessible transaction counter area, (2) keep it open at all times, and (3) have a sign identifying the location of the accessible counter and declaring it to be open at all times. In the present case, US Bank does not have the required signage and does not keep the accessible counter area open at all times.
If your bank doesn’t transact your business at an accessible counter or you experience any other
problems with facilities being inaccessible, contact me, Mark Potter, at 800-383-7027 or