Chocolate Factory Accused Of Discriminating Against Disabled
Groups Sue Stephany's Chocolate Over Access To Factory Tour
4:25 AM, Jan 25, 2006
Two groups advocating for the disabled have sued Stephany's Chocolate, claiming that the company discriminates against people with disabilities because it refuses to allow anyone who uses a wheelchair, walker or cane to tour the chocolate factory.The Colorado Cross-Disability Organization (CCDC) and the Capitol Hill Action and Recreation Group (CHARG) also claim that the company refuses to allow adults who happen to be disabled to participate on a public tour unless accompanied one-on-one by a non-disabled caregiver.The lawsuit stems from an incident in May when members of CHARG, which represents people who have severe mental illness, said they were not allowed to tour the candy factory because they did not have one caretaker for every disabled person. Instead, the group was directed to watch a video about the candy operations and then told to leave."Stephany's Chocolate's actions are outrageous!" said Julie Reiskin, CCDC's executive director, in a press release. "This paternalistic attitude that we need a nondisabled adult to accompany us at all times is insulting, discriminatory, and exactly why the ADA (American Disabilities Act) was passed to begin with."An attorney for Stephany's Chocolate sent a letter to the legal program director for the CCDC, saying that the company's policies were justified because they provide for the safety and health of visitors and employees at the factory.The company also doesn't allow children's strollers and oxygen bottles on the tour and say children must be accompanied by, and in contact with, a responsible adult at all times.A copy of the lawsuit can be found by clicking here.