Friendly's Restaurants Settles Discrimination Suit With Institution
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 24, 2003
FRANKLIN, MASSACHUSETTS--The company that runs 96 Friendly's restaurants in this state agreed last week to settle a lawsuit that claimed it discriminated against people with developmental disabilities.
Under the agreement filed Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court, Friendly Ice Cream Corp. will establish new policies and train employees to make sure they do not discriminate against customers with disabilities in the future. They will also donate $5,000 to the recreational program of Wrentham Developmental Center, a state-run institution housing people with mental retardation.
The suit came after a March 2002 incident at a downtown Franklin Friendly's. Four WDC residents, on an outing with three staff members, were made to wait for 25 minutes to be seated, even though the dining area was nearly empty.
The office of State Attorney General Tom Reilly investigated, along with the Department of Mental Retardation, and found the discrimination claims to be valid.
"Citizens -- especially those with disabilities -- should not be denied equal access to public places," Reilly said.
Friendly's Restaurants continued to deny wrongdoing in the settlement, but a spokesperson said that the company was pleased that the matter had "been resolved amicably".