Mo. Woman Sues eBay For ‘Deaf Discrimination’
by Rob Low
January 7, 2013
NEVADA, Mo. — Forty-seven-year old Melissa Earll owns dozens of old mint condition comic books, hundreds of rare baseball cards, plus antique time pieces, medicine bottles and a coin collection printed minutes after President John Kennedy was assassinated. But none of it makes her a penny on eBay.
Now, the Nevada, Mo., woman is suing eBay, saying the internet auction site discriminates against deaf people.
Earll was born deaf and says eBay makes it impossible for her to register as a seller.
eBay forces all sellers to register online and then calls applicants with a secret pin number to verify their identity. The seller emails the pin number back to the online auction site to prevent fraud.
Earll can’t hear what the pin number is over the phone because she’s deaf.
“Ebay keeps me from taking advantage of the opportunities that other people have and it’s because I couldn’t hear,” said Earll.
At issue is whether internet companies have to accommodate the disabled just like brick and mortar stores do.
A Federal Judge has already dismissed Earll’s claim saying eBay doesn’t have to comply with The American with Disabilities Act because as an internet-only company. The judge said eBay doesn’t provide a place “of public accommodation.”
Earll and her attorney, Michael Aschenbrener, say eBay could easily text Earll the pin number, use a computer password or use a speech to text phone, options used by other internet companies.
Instead, Earll complains eBay said, “can your Mom and Dad answer the phone for you? And I said I’m a 47-year old adult woman, no. I don’t live at home, no.”
In a statement to FOX 4, eBay would only say, “U.S. District Court Judge Edwad Davilla found that plaintiff’s complaint lacked facts supporting her claim and eBay is pleased with the court’s decision to dismiss her case.”
Earll said she’s prepared to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
“If Netflix can be held acceptable and be told that they have to make new releases available through Closed Captioning… then Ebay should surely be held accountable to the same standards.”