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March 24, 2003

Family Dollar Stores Inc. to Provide Greater Access

From: Disability Rights Council - Mar 24 2003


The Disability Rights Council of Greater Washington (DRC) and Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (Family Dollar) announced today an agreement which will provide greater access for customers with disabilities in over 4,700 Family Dollar stores in 42 states. The DRC and Family Dollar hailed the agreement as demonstrating the effectiveness of collaborative efforts between advocacy organizations and responsible businesses to implement the equal access promise of the ADA.

Working cooperatively and in the spirit of providing improved access, representatives of Family Dollar and the DRC worked during the past two years to improve the shopping experience of customers with disabilities.

During this period, Family Dollar has removed turnstiles from the limited number of stores that had them, and has ensured that there are accessible check out aisles in the stores. In addition, more accessible fixture layouts were developed and are continuing to be used in all new and renovated stores. Furthermore, Family Dollar has introduced new stocking and merchandise recovery procedures to help ensure aisles are clutter-free. These programs have been coordinated by an ADA Administrator, a position the Company created in October 2001. Under the agreement announced today, Family Dollar commits to continue these programs. In addition, the Company has surveyed or will be surveying exterior areas of approximately 500 Company owned stores, and stores in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, to identify barriers. A fund of up to $250,000 has been created for remedial work necessary for barrier removal in those stores. The Company has also agreed to develop and conduct additional ADA training for associates and managers. Family Dollar has also developed and has started using processes to better ensure that its newly opened stores do not have barriers within the store or in exterior areas. These processes are expected to raise awareness of ADA compliance among landlords and improve accessibility in communities where Family Dollar is opening new stores, without imposing additional costs on Family Dollar. Family Dollar has developed processes to monitor compliance of all ADA related programs and will periodically report results to the DRC.

George Mahoney, Jr., Executive Vice President of Family Dollar Stores, Inc., stated, “Family Dollar believes that it has been complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other accessibility laws. The Company has undertaken many programs to make the shopping experience positive for all customers, including customers with disabilities. We believe the new programs and procedures under this agreement will complement our existing efforts. Family Dollar is pleased that the DRC recognizes our good faith efforts to address access issues and also are pleased to have reached this understanding with the DRC.”

DRC Executive Director Linda Royster said, “The DRC is delighted to reach this agreement with Family Dollar. From the outset of our discussions, Family Dollar displayed an understanding of the importance of equal access and a willingness to find workable and creative solutions to the concerns we raised. The DRC welcomes Family Dollar’s support of the DRC’s mission of eliminating discrimination against all persons with disabilities. The Company’s commitment to ensure that it complies with the ADA will go far in achieving the objectives of this landmark civil rights law.”
Family Dollar Stores, Inc. is one of the fastest growing discount store chains in the United States. During the last ten years, over 2,500 new stores have been added to the chain, of which nearly 1,600 were added in the last five years. Family Dollar stores provide low cost, basic merchandise for family and home needs in a no frills, low overhead, self-service environment. Stores are located in a contiguous 42-state area ranging northeast to Maine, southeast to Florida, as far northwest as North Dakota and southwest to Arizona.
The DRC is a non-profit membership organization established in 1992 whose members are persons with disabilities and others who are interested in equal rights, equal access and equal opportunity for persons with disabilities. The DRC pursues its principal goal—eliminating discrimination against individuals with disabilities—through various means such as public education, counseling, conciliation, litigation, and research, including investigations related to architectural barriers to access in public accommodations.

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs’ Disability Rights Project, and Eugene Goldman of the law firm of McDermott, Will & Emery served as counsel to the DRC. Robert Duston of the law firm of Schmeltzer, Aptaker & Shepard, P.C. represented Family Dollar Stores, Inc.

March 24, 2003

Contact: Linda L. Royster, Disability Rights Council of Greater Washington
(202) 234-7550, ext. 5