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Suit: Kohl’s stores in Chicago, suburbs not wheelchair-accessible

A national non-profit is claiming Kohl’s stores in Chicago and six suburbs are violating disability standards by not being wheelchair accessible.

The lawsuit was jointly filed Tuesday in federal court by Washington D.C.-based Equal Rights Center and six other people, including an Illinois resident who claims stores in Gleview, Arlington Hegihts, Niles and Vernon Hills have presented maneuvering problems for her wheelchair. Kohl’s Corporation and Kohl’s Department Stores were named as defendants.

Devora Fisher, a member of the ERC, has been living with a cerebral abnormality known as agenesis of the corpus callosum since birth, the suit states. She also suffers from scoliosis and requires a wheelchair to get around.

The suit claims Fisher frequents Kohl’s stores to buy supplies for her picture frame company, Frames by Devora.

Since Oct. 2012, Devora has noted all four stores lack accessible routes between aisles, fixed displays and moveable displays. Some of the stores also have narrow checkout aisles, tall customer service desks and furnite blocking restroom access.

Devora’s legal guardian, Sheila Fisher, has told store and regional managers about the accessibility issues and was “assured” they would be taken care of. Fisher sent Kohl’s CEO and president Kevin Mansell a personal letter in 2012 regarding the barriers, but no changes were made. In some instances, the number of inaccessible aisles have increased, the suit claims.

The ERC claims it canvassed and found accessibility issues at Kohl’s stores in Chicago, 2140 N. Elston Ave.; Burbank, 7608 La Crosse Ave.; and Elmhurst, 303 S. Route 83. It also sent letters in December 2012 and 2013 to Mansell, advising him on the barriers, but received no response.

A Kohl’s Corporation representative did not respond to messages for comment.

The suit claims the company is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and New York Human Rights Law. Plaintiffs are asking for Kohl’s to comply with ADA standards, award the ERC punitive damages and provide compensation for legal fees.