An Oregon man filed suits Monday claiming Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart discriminated against the 20-year-old when they refused to sell him a rifle.
Dick’s and Walmart restricted gun sales to adults 21 and older in the wake of the Florida high school massacre. The 19-year-old accused in the school slaying bought the AR-15 used in the attack legally.
Oregon law allows residents to buy shotguns or rifles starting at age 18.
The man’s lawsuits filed against the retailers in two separate counties claim he faced age discrimination from Dick’s and Walmart. The lawsuit is believed to be the first filed over the new gun policies enacted on Feb. 28.
The lawsuit claims a store owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods in Medford, Oregon, refused to sell the man a .22-caliber Ruger rifle on Feb. 24. The suit says another Walmart in Oregon refused to sell him a gun on March 3.
The man is asking judges to force Dick’s and Walmart “to stop unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20 year-old customers at all Oregon locations.” Additionally, he is asking for unspecified punitive damages.
A Walmart spokesman said the retailer plans to defend the new policy.
Dick’s and Walmart are not alone in establishing a new policy on age restricted gun sales. Kroger Co., the nation’s largest grocery chain, on Thursday announced its Fred Meyer stores will discontinue the sale of guns and ammunition to customers younger than 21 years old.
Not all state public accommodation laws consider age a protected status, and Florida is one of those states. In the 19 states and jurisdictions that do have such laws on the books, including Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, all have prohibitions against age discrimination by “public accommodations” or publicly accessible retail establishments.
The announcement, made two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 students and staff members, is one of the strongest stances taken by corporate America in the national gun debate. It also carries a huge symbolic weight coming from prominent national gunsellers.
It will certainly be interesting to see how this case plays out in regards to age discrimination. If you have questions about age discrimination, our Florida Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here to help. Call us today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online to request a free consultation.