U.S. Attorney Terrell Harris' office has filed a complaint against Century Management, LLC, alleging that many of the McDonald's restaurants operated by the company are in violation of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The complaint alleges that the restaurants contain physical barriers which should be removed.
The complaint stems from an incident reported by a customer in a wheelchair who fell in the bathroom of one of the company's restaurants.
"Century Management owns about 50 McDonald's restaurants in the area, and the majority of those were built after 1996 and need improvements," said Gary Vanasek, one of two U.S. attorneys handling the case for the government.
The Justice Department enforces the Fair Housing Act and the ADA, which provide architectural standards for buildings opened to the public after January 26, 1993. Buildings built prior to that date are required to remove any barriers to access.
"We want the company to improve the older restaurants in a readily achievable manner. The time limit is negotiable," said Vanasek. Attorneys reached an impasse with the company after two years of talks. During that time, Vanasek said, Century removed some barriers, but other issues -- including narrow restroom stalls and handicap ramps leading to restaurant doors -- must still be addressed.
Century Management denied the allegations.
The justice department will surveys the restaurants and share its findings with Century Management. The company will then be required to correct the problems or could enter into court-ordered mediation. Vanasek expects the surveys to take from six weeks to two months.
The department has previously worked with Valenti Mid-South Management, operators of several Wendy's restaurants, which is implementing its renovations over a two-year span.