Articles & Publications 05.02.24

Segal McCambridge Secures Dismissal of Discrimination Claim in Go-Kart Access Case

Segal McCambridge Associate William Gray successfully obtained a finding of no probable cause in a discrimination claim regarding a place of public accommodation.

In this case, Claimant filed a discrimination claim with the New York State Division of Human Rights after denied access to a single-seater Go-Kart due to Claimant’s right leg prosthetic. More specifically, Claimant was advised that, pursuant to a park policy, he cannot operate a single-seater Go-Kart, as they require the use of both legs to operate safely. Claimant asserted the park’s policy was discriminatory as, although he is a right leg amputee, he has a valid New York state driver’s license and can safely drive an automobile. Claimant demanded the park amend/add a policy allowing lower extremity amputees access to single-seater Go-Karts or, alternatively, are provided with an alternative reasonable accommodation which would enable amputees to use or enjoy the go-kart track.

Through the use of witness affidavits and an opinion from an amusement/recreation safety expert, Segal McCambridge effectively established that the park’s policy was not discriminatory in nature but was based upon a legitimate safety requirement designed to limit the inherent risks associated with Go-Karting. In this regard, we explained that the single-seater Go-Karts require the use of both feet to reach the gas and brake pedals, which are located on opposite sides of a steering column located between the driver’s legs. The design of the Go-Kart makes it virtually impossible to operate the Go-Kart safely with a single leg. Furthermore, the Go-Kart’s operating manual requires drivers to sit with their knees in a bent position, ensuring that, in the event of a collision, the force of the impact is absorbed through the driver’s legs. We explained that in the event the Claimant were to sit in the Go-Kart with his left leg bent at the required angle, his prosthetic device may not be able to flex to the necessary angle, creating an increased risk of injury to the Claimant in the event of a collision. As such, the Claimant’s prosthetic device created a significant safety issue to himself, as well as other drivers on the course.

Furthermore, the Claimant was offered the reasonable accommodation of riding in the passenger’s seat of a two-seater Go-Kart which would effectively allow Claimant to enjoy full access to the Go-Kart track—which he refused.

Following a thorough investigation by the New York State Division of Human Rights, the Division agreed with our assertion that no probable cause exists to believe a discriminatory policy was in place, dismissing the complaint and closing the file.