New York blind vendors sue state over ignoring Randolph Sheppard law
A group of 12 New York State blind vendors has filed a complaint against the New York State Thruway Authority and the New York State Commission for the Blind for allegedly ignoring a state law that requires all state agencies, including the Thruway Authority, to maximize opportunities for blind vendors to operate vending facilities on state properties, according to a press release.
The National Federation of the Blind of New York, the American Council of the Blind of New York, the National Association of Blind Merchants and the Randolph-Sheppard Vendors of America have stated support for the blind vendors.
The Thruway Authority signed a contract for a private corporation to rebuild all 27 service areas on the Thruway and for Applegreen, an Irish corporation, to operate the foodservices at those service areas for the next 33 years, according to the release.
A state law known as the Mini-Randolph-Sheppard Act requires there be at least one vending facility operated by a blind vendor at each service area, and that in addition, blind vendors operate all of the vending machines at the service areas.
The Commission for the Blind claims the Thruway Authority is not planning any vending facilities to be operated by blind vendors at any of the renovated Thruway service areas.
Moreover, to avoid allowing blind vendors to receive the revenue from vending machines, the Thruway Authority is allowing Applegreen to have no vending machines at the service areas, thereby depriving travelers of the opportunity to buy a drink or snack without standing in line, according to the release.