10 Nov Service Animals and Potential ADA Lawsuits Against Your Business
Does your business accommodate customers who bring their Service Animals with them?
Nowadays, the number of people who utilize service animals has never been higher, and these animals can be used for a multitude of reasons. Many people have even learned that getting their pet “certified” as a service or emotional-support animal is as easy as printing out a badge from a website, and placing it on their dog, cat, etc. Some even go as far as to adopt dogs from a local or city pound, and use these dogs as “service animals” by taking them to various businesses, simply to be asked to leave or to be refused service from a manager or business owner. This may seem a bit strange, but there is actually a pretty diabolical reason behind this behavior.
The legitimacy of your client’s service animal certification may not be your biggest concern as a business owner. In fact, service dogs and their owners are NOT required to display any ID, certification or documentation identifying the dog as a service animal. If your business has a No Animal policy, and you ask your customer with the service animal to leave, or refuse them service, they could actually sue you for discrimination. Recently, a large number of lawsuitshave been filed against businesses for discriminating against their customers by NOT allowing them on the premises of their business while accompanied by their service animal. But it doesn’t stop there.
One of our own clients once offered a customer with a Pitbull service dog to dine on his restaurant’s patio, since dogs (especially large dogs) were not allowed inside the restaurant’s dining room. This offer, although seemingly very accommodating, was met with a lawsuit from the dog’s owner.
Discrimination against someone with a disability falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and ADA lawsuits can cost a business owner BIG!
For more information on the specific details of the ADA, please CLICK HERE! (www.ADA.gov)
Even if you suspect that a customer’s service animal certification is not valid or even real, you may wish to reconsider refusing them service, asking them to leave or even only giving them access to your business’s patio. They could come back and sue you for discrimination.
Have a safe and wonderful week!