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Macy's Stores To Widen Aisles Under Settlement
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 13, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--Shoppers who use wheelchairs and motorized scooters will be able to navigate the aisles more easily at 75 Macy's stores across California, now that a 1996 class-action suit has been settled.

Macy's agreed Thursday to widen 80 to 90 percent of its store aisles to 32 inches and expand the clearance around hard-edged fixtures to 36 inches within the next three years. Macy's also agreed to pay nearly $300,000 in attorneys' fees.

Customers with disabilities and disability rights advocates filed the suit claiming that Macy's violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not removing barriers to access. A partial settlement two years ago required the department store chain to widen entrances, fitting rooms and restrooms. Macy's was required to pay nearly $3 million to customers with disabilities who had shopped at their stores since 1995.

Aisle width at Macy's was the last issue to be resolved under the original suit.

"This opens up department stores to a lot of people who have been foreclosed," said attorney Laurence Paradis, executive director of Disability Rights Access in Oakland.

Robert Mettler, chairman and CEO of Macy's West, said in a statement that the company "will maintain a store environment that is open, accessible and welcoming to everyone, including our customers with disabilities."

The settlement agreement is subject to final approval by a federal judge in San Francisco.

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