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April 30, 2004

Deaf Man Claims Fast Food Chain Refused Service

From: Boston, MA - Apr 30, 2004

Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Westborough Restaurant

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. -- A deaf man filed a federal lawsuit against Wendy's Friday after he was allegedly refused service at the fast-food restaurant's drive-through in Westborough, Mass.

NewsCenter 5's Janet Wu reported that Howard Kaplan said that it was three years ago when the manager allegedly threatened to call police after he tried to talk to the employee using sign language.

Kaplan said that he passed the microphone area and proceeded the second window because he found no one at the first window. He indicated to the cashier that he needed a paper and pencil to write down his order. She took the paper, punched his order in and then called the manager over to the window.

"It was at this point that the manager told him that he needed to go back around to the microphone again. This is when the altercation ensued. She yelled at him. He didn't understand what she was saying. He tried to tell her he wanted his food, but she refused. She continued to yell at him," Kaplan's attorney Rebecca Pontikes said.

"The manager did not yell at him, and in fact, it was just the opposite. I talked to all the employees on duty at that time myself," co-owner William Zanke said in a telephone interview.

"Calling it a miscommunication sidesteps the entire issue. There is a problem here because a deaf person could not use the Wendy's drive-through in the same way that a hearing person can," Pontikes said.

Zanke said that the restaurant serves deaf customers on a regular basis, and that this was the only incident of its type.

Copyright 2004 by TheBostonChannel. All rights reserved.