Two veterans are suing a gluten-free bakery in Longmont, CO for not permitting their service dogs in the shop. I don’t know why but “gluten-free” somehow makes the whole thing that much more ridiculous.
As you know, the case involving Masterpiece Cake shop in Lakewood, CO was just argued before the Supreme Court. This case involved two gay men who felt they were discriminated against as a protected class in Colorado which provides them special “accommodation.”
Disabled individuals are a federally protected class which also requires businesses to make reasonable accommodation. Some accommodations are mandatory under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) such as wheelchair ramps, handicapped parking, and elevators. Here are some additional accommodations from the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section:
A clothing store may need to relax a policy of permitting only one person at a time in a dressing room for a person with a disability who is shopping with a companion and needs the companion’s assistance in order to try on clothes.
A store that requires a driver’s license as identification for paying by check may need to accept an alternative form of identification from a customer with a disability that disqualifies him or her from getting a license, such as a state-issued picture ID for non-drivers.
A store employee may need to help an older customer using a walker or someone with limited use of his hands or arms, by carrying a bulky item to the store’s check-out counter.
A restaurant may need to assist a customer who is unable to use both hands to cut his or her food, by cutting the food into bite-sized pieces.
A grocery store employee may need to assist a customer who uses a wheelchair, by retrieving merchandise from a high shelf.
Staff may need to help a customer who has an intellectual disability in understanding product labels or instructions.
So back to the service dogs. The ADA definition for service dogs are:
Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
Where can a service dog go? It’s kind of like that old joke — “Where does King Kong Sleep? Anywhere he wants to.”
Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go. For example, in a hospital it would be inappropriate to exclude a service animal from areas such as patient rooms, clinics, cafeterias, or examination rooms. However, it may be appropriate to exclude a service animal from operating rooms or burn units where the animal’s presence may compromise a sterile environment.
It is comforting to know that a service animal “may be appropriate to exclude” from operating rooms and burn units. Ya think?
The large ape in the room is, of course, how does one know if the animal is indeed a “service animal” under the definition of the ADA? Fortunately, the ADA helpfully spells this out for all of us.
When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
And, of course, the bakery shop owner knew none of this AND SO WE HAVE A LAWSUIT! As soon as she inquired about whether they had proof that this was a service dog, her gluten-free buns were cooked.
This is not the time to own a bakery that’s for sure!
It turns out the police who were called to the bakery had no idea about these federal laws either so the City of Longmont is being sued as well!
If you’re wondering about whether a service dog is permitted in a bakery, the ADA states — Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
In a similar case, The National Federation of the Blind sued Uber which agreed to pay $225,000 to the NFB. Hold onto your MAGA caps — the attorneys in this suit walked away with a cool $2.38M fee award.
By the way, I have no problem having service animals be where there owners need for them to be. I wish we could have dogs in bars! The second best part about being in pubs in England were the dogs with their very British owners. The first part, of course, was a good bitter served to the proper fill line, at the proper temperature, for £3.00 or so.
I do wish the federal government would stop trying to force “accommodations” on its citizens! If a request is reasonable, most people will try to be accommodating on their own. If not, the customer should go somewhere else. And not make it a federal crime!
This isn’t really funny at all but at this point about all we can do is laugh whenever these federally mandated “good intentions” have “unexpected” but entirely predictable results.