On October 12, 2018, natural beauty company Burt’s Bees became the latest retailer to face a civil rights lawsuit, which alleges that the Burt’s Bees website, BurtsBees.com, fails to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
Named plaintiff, Lucia Marett, filed the suit in federal court in the Southern District of New York. In the complaint, Marett argues that Burt’s Bees has failed to design, construct, maintain and operate a website that is fully accessible to and independently usable for blind or visually impaired persons. Plaintiff claims most visually impaired persons browse the internet and access websites by using keyboards in conjunction with screen-reading software, which vocalizes visual information on the computer screen. According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which the plaintiff states are readily accessible to web designers and businesses, websites are recommended to have several basic components in order to be accessible. These include adding invisible “alt-text” tags to images and ensuring that all functions can be performed using a keyboard and not just a mouse. The recommended guidelines ensure that blind persons can easily navigate a website.
The suit is seeking to represent a class of all similarly situated visually-impaired persons who have attempted to access Burtsbees.com and have been denied access to the enjoyment of goods and services offered on defendant’s website. Plaintiff also seeks to represent a New York subclass. In addition to accusations of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit also asserts claims of violations of the New York State Human Rights Law and seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction against Burt’s Bees, requiring the company to take all steps necessary to make its website into full compliance with the requirements set forth by the ADA.
The suit is: Marett v. The Clorox Co. et al., Case No.: 1:18-cv-09333, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
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