It’s often assumed that all civil rights laws forbid discrimination which the law considers somehow wrongful or “invidious” while ignoring the fact that many “civil rights laws” actually require discrimination. McDonald’s assumed that it complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by serving only customers in cars at the drive through window at its late-night outlets because it was not wrongfully discriminating against disabled customers who couldn’t drive. Thus, McDonald’s claimed that it complied with the ADA by refusing to discriminate in favor of potential customers who were blind and couldn’t access its drive through windows and obtain service.
A U.S. District Court in Illinois told McDonald’s it was wrong, noting that it does require businesses to discriminate in favor of disabled patrons so that they are not denied access to the same services which are provided to customers who are not disabled. Because the plaintiff in the case was blind and could not drive through McDonald’s drive through window, the plaintiff was entitled to accommodation which would enable him to obtain service from those facilities which were otherwise only accessible to customers in cars.