eBay sued for “discriminatory” registration system

Melissa J. Earll

Melissa J. Earll (right), with lawyers Michael Aschenbrener (left) and Jay Edelson (middle) of Edelson McGuire, LLC

A deaf woman is suing eBay, saying that the company’s telephone-based seller verification system breaches laws protecting disabled people from discrimination.

Melissa Earll from Nevada, Missouri says that eBay’s identification system breaches federal and California state laws. The system places automated calls to new sellers, requiring them to listen to a PIN given verbally on the telephone, and then enter that into the site, to prove that the phone number they’ve provided is correct. Ms Earll cannot hear the number, and so cannot complete the verification.

Ms Earll has repeatedly asked the company to provide her with another method of verifying her identity, but they have failed to do so. Her attorney says that “at one point, eBay even suggested that she just find someone who can hear normally to answer her phone for her.” She has now filed suit “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”.

Via plaintiff’s press release.