On November 4, 2014, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal
("Tribunal") found that a restaurant owner discriminated
against a customer (CC), who was also the mother of one of the
restaurant's waitresses (JC), on the basis of disability and
family status when they refused to serve CC because she was
accompanied by a service animal.
and J.L. o/a [...] Restaurant, C.L. and J.L, 2014 HRTO
1625, a mother and daughter filed separate applications under
the Human Rights Code ("Code") after a
restaurant in a small town in Northern Ontario refused to allow CC
to be accompanied by a service animal, despite receiving proof and
identification that the dog was a service animal. The restaurant
also ordered JC, a waitress at the restaurant to refuse service to
her mother, CC. CC required a service dog to assist with a stress
disorder, anxiety and a bipolar condition.
During a heated exchange between CC and one of the restaurant
owners on September 26, 2012, CC repeatedly advised one of the
restaurant owners that she was entitled to have her service animal
pursuant to the Customer Service requirements under the
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
("AODA"). Despite being advised of same, the
restaurant owner ended up swearing, refusing to serve CC and
telling her to never come back. CC was so upset over the incident
that her husband took her to the local Crisis Intervention Unit
where she was given medication.
During her next scheduled shift, JC was told by the restaurant
owner that they were in the process of having their lawyers ban her
mother from the restaurant. The owner instructed her to refuse to
serve her mother, ask her to leave if she came into the restaurant
with the service animal and to call the police if she refused. The
restaurant manager also told JC that they would make sure that her
dogsled business would not open again if she did not comply. As a
result, JC resigned, and continued to operate her dogsledding
In or around December 2012, a public inspector came to JC's
house in response to a complaint about her dogsledding business,
which was found to be unsubstantiated. JC assumed it was her
previous employer at the restaurant who filed the complaint. This
was the last straw that led JC and CC to file two separate
applications to the Tribunal.
In reviewing the case, the Tribunal found the following:
CC's disability or perceived
disability was a factor in the adverse treatment she experienced by
the restaurant owners;
Denial of service because of her
service animal was an adverse effect directly related to her
JC had been adversely impacted on the
basis of family status due to the threats the restaurant owners
made to close down her dogsledding business, and forcing her to not
serve her mother. Further, the threats made to JC amounted to a
reprisal under the Code.
The Tribunal allowed both complaints, awarding CC $10,000 and JC
$15,000 for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect. The
Tribunal also ordered the owners to post a letter in the restaurant
stating that service animals were welcome and draft an
This case serves as a reminder to employers that under the
Code, and AODA, employers face hefty penalties if
they do not allow service animals to assist a person with a
disability, unless specifically exempt from doing so under law. In
order to ensure that employers are compliant with the requirements
under the Code and AODA, it is recommended that
front-line staff and management be trained on these legislatives
requirements so as to reduce the likelihood of claims being brought
against your organization.
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