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Class Action Lawsuit: eBay Violated Americans with Disabilities Act

Class Action Lawsuit: eBay Violated Americans with Disabilities Act

March 2010

Editor: A deaf woman claims that eBay violate the ADA, because it requires people to use a voice phone to register as a seller. Is this really the first time this issue has been raised in all the years eBay has been around? In any case, here’s the story.

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A class action lawsuit filed against eBay today claims a deaf woman in Missouri tried multiple times to register to sell items on the auction site but couldn’t because the company requires sellers to verify their identities via telephone.

Because she is deaf and does not use a phone, Melissa J. Earll of Nevada (nuh-VAY-duh), Mo. is not able to complete the registration process and not able to sell items on eBay. Her lawsuit is being filed on behalf of all deaf or hard of hearing persons who have been prevented from registering as sellers with eBay because of the company’s discriminatory telephone registration system.

eBay requires those registering to sell items to be called over the phone, listen to auditory PINs, and then enter those PINs online to verify their identities. Despite Ms. Earll’s numerous attempts to explain her hearing issue to the company over email and online chat support asking for an alternate method to authorize her account, eBay refused to accommodate her.

“At one point, eBay even suggested that she just find someone who can hear normally to answer her phone for her,” says Earll’s attorney, Jay Edelson of Edelson McGuire in Chicago who previously won a $30-million settlement over the Thomas the Tank lead paint toy and is currently pursuing action against JPMorgan Chase and other big banks that received federal bailout money for fraudulently and randomly freezing home equity lines of credit. “This is a travesty for all deaf or hard of hearing persons who should be able to sell items on eBay just as anyone else does.”

Edelson appeared at an afternoon news conference in Chicago along with his client and her service dog, Truman. The suit (Earll v. eBay) was filed in federal court in Springfield, Mo.

Edelson is joined in the suit by Michael Aschenbrener and Christopher Dore, also of Edelson McGuire.

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