A man with spina bifida has accused Groupon of discrimination for not offering comparable products accessible to those with disabilities alongside other offered deals, including discounted hotel stays and football tickets.
Andrew Huzar said he was trying to purchase a Groupon Getaway Deal on July 30, 2015, for a stay at a Red Lion Hotel in Harrisburg, Penn., but discovered the website offered no options for rooms that incorporated accessibility features for people with physical difficulties. He emailed Groupon to inquire about wheelchair-accessible rooms, and though the company responded promptly, the answer was negative.
“I’m sorry, unfortunately handicap-accessible rooms are not available,” Groupon wrote via email, per the complaint.
Though he said that experience discouraged him from researching future Groupon hotel discounts, he encountered a similar roadblock with a July 21, 2016, offer to buy tickets for up to three New York Jets games at MetLife stadium in New Jersey. Again, he said Groupon was not selling any tickets designated as being accessible via wheelchair, not did it “have any method for patrons with disabilities to purchase tickets.”
“Providing accessible purchasing options” through the website, Huzar alleged, “is readily achievable, reasonably feasible and easily accomplished, and would not place an undue burden on” Groupon.
He further stipulated the Groupon “website serves as a nexus or conduct for individuals to obtain access to places of public accommodation and is directly linked to places of public accommodation.”
Groupon Inc. is headquartered in Chicago.
Huzar formally alleged Groupon had violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as the company’s ticket sales provision intended to establish equal opportunity for purchasing accessible seating through the same methods of distribution as general tickets, “including telephone service, in-person ticket sales at the facility or third-party ticketing services.”
He said Groupon “including telephone service, in-person ticket sales at the facility or third-party ticketing services” and also “has absolutely zero accessible options for patrons with disabilities who want to purchase accessible tickets to Jets games or other in-person sporting events.”
The complaint outlined two classes — one for those with disabilities who wanted or tried to purchase public event tickets through Groupon, and a second for those who tried to buy travel arrangements. Both classes are believed to have tens of thousands of members, the complaint indicated.
In addition to class certification, Huzar wants the court to declare Groupon’s policies to be in violation of the ADA, to order injunctions forcing ADA compliance and to give him an incentive award “for the time, burden and difficulty of bringing and maintaining this action,” as well as legal fees.
Representing Huzar in the matter, and putative class attorneys, are lawyers from Bizer & DeReus, of New Orleans, and the Law Office of Charles E. McElvenny, Chicago.