A New Jersey women is filing a discrimination lawsuit against Taco Bell after she was criticized and denied service at various locations.
Gina Cirrincione, who communicates using American Sign Language, said the first incident occurred at a Taco Bell in Pleasantville, New Jersey, on January 11. She passed a note with her order to a worker at a drive-through window.
Soon after, the manager of the restaurant came to the window to berate her for using the drive-thru and placing her order at the pick-up window. Although the manager eventually processed her order, he said she would not be served in the future unless she physically entered the store.
Two months later, Cirrincione went to another Taco Bell in Atlantic City. This time, she was ignored completely and left without food. Her note was passed back to her while in the drive-thru, and no one acknowledged her when she parked and went inside the restaurant to place an order, which caused her to feel “humiliated, frustrated, and confused."
"What we have here is a complete systemic failure by Taco Bell and its franchises to have proper policies in place and train its staff on how to take simple orders from deaf customers at its drive thrus," stated Cirrincione’s attorneys at the Eisenberg & Baum Law Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
The lawsuit accused Taco Bell of having no accessible means for deaf individuals to be service in a similar way to customers who are not hard-of-hearing. The employees at both located also allegedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
Cirrincione asked for monetary damages and for Taco Bell to establish policies that would prohibit such incidents from happening to customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
"Taco Bell has a fundamental policy to respect all of our customers and employees, and we are committed to maintaining an environment free of discrimination or harassment," said spokeswoman Laura Nedbal. "We do not tolerate discrimination in any form."