A paralyzed Black woman is outraged at a gas station employee in Louisville, Kentucky, who refused her service in an apparent violation of federal law.
Zakiya Wright says she went to Thorntons gas station on 2007 Brownsboro Road on July 9 with her young son and a white female employee refused to pump Wright’s gas.
In the video, Wright, who is wheelchair-bound, says the two had a brief exchange of words before the employee went back inside the store and refused to help her. She goes by the name of @wintermarie5 on TikTok, and the video she posted about the incident received 2.8 million views.
“I’m at 2007 Brownsboro Road and I am trying to get gas. My son is in the car with me, and, like, I cannot physically f*****g walk. If you know me then you know I’m in a wheelchair, I use assistance, and have hand controls. The lady just told me ‘I don’t know how to pump gas,'” said Wright in the video.
She then stated that she told the employee it was “self-explanatory,” but she still refused.
“She gon’ holler, ‘If you driving then you can walk, right?’ And I am trying to explain to her that I cannot walk. I’m paralyzed. She gone holler, ‘How you driving?’ Once again, I’m using assistance and how does that even f*****g matter? It’s a whole wheelchair sign on this gas pump, and that means if I need assistance you supposed to help me,” shouted Wright in the video as tears roll down her face.
The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that self-service gas stations make accommodations for disabled customers who cannot pump their own gas. The regulation reads in part:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires self-serve gas stations to provide equal access to their customers with disabilities. If necessary to provide access, gas stations must :
- Provide refueling assistance upon the request of an individual with a disability. A service station or convenience store is not required to provide such service at any time that it is operating on a remote control basis with a single employee, but is encouraged to do so, if feasible.
- Let patrons know (e.g., through appropriate signs) that customers with disabilities can obtain refueling assistance by either honking or otherwise signaling an employee.
- Provide the refueling assistance without any charge beyond the self-serve price.
Wright said that she asked the employee for her name.
The female cashier replied, “I ain’t got no name. Won’t you walk in the store and find out.”
Social media users commented on TikTok under the video to encourage her to file a discrimination lawsuit and make a report to the store’s manager. She received over 14,000 comments in addition to the 2.8 million views.
“File a discrimination lawsuit, I’m sorry that happened to you mamas & I hope you were able to get assistance,” wrote @TheBundleTherapist on TikTok.
“Do not call corporate, call a lawyer ASAP!” wrote @Ariecrybbby on TikTok.
I dislike PEOPLE HONESTLY !!♬ original sound – Winter Marie
Another user wrote, “Karma gonna get her real good.”
“Straight up discrimination!” another user wrote on Instagram.
Wright made two follow-up videos explaining that she contacted lawyers but couldn’t afford a retainer fee. She also stated that she reached out to the corporate office for Thorntons gas station and was told the video surveillance of the incident could only be released to a lawyer requesting it.
She revealed the name of the employee as Vicky, but it could not be confirmed. She mentioned that an officer was called to the scene but told her that he couldn’t file a police report because “no crime took place and it was a civil matter.” The officer did help her pump the gas though.
She went made a GoFundMe page to help her with physical therapy and to obtain a lawyer.
Atlanta Black Star reached out to Thortons inquiring about the incident, but the company has not responded to media requests as of Wednesday afternoon. Wright alleged they told her an investigation is ongoing.