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52-year-old man wins discrimination lawsuit

A 52-year-old man with a service animal won an Ontario civil rights case after an employee told him the dog could not stay in a local restaurant. He submitted the civil litigation claim to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario who ruled in the plaintiff's favour. Discussing the incident, the plaintiff explained how the employee's treatment of him seemed dated and said that he should not have to fight for his rights just because he is blind.

The incident happened in February 2013 when the couple found the restaurant open after a day of errands during a rough cold spell. However, the employee said that the dog had to leave despite evidence suggesting that it was a guide animal. The employee then telephoned his supervisor as the victim's wife recorded the call. The employee was adamant in his refusal to accommodate the man, so the plaintiff left. However, in court, the boss said he never got the call.

The verdict included compensation amounting to $5,000 from the restaurant owner to be paid to the victim. In addition, all workers in all the owner's restaurants were ordered to complete an online education class about human rights. The owner must also put up announcements that welcome service animals. The victim wishes he would have received more money but agrees the decision was fair. He suggested that a larger financial sanction would impact more restaurant owners and would force them take the incident seriously. He added that he has been a victim of discrimination in Toronto in the past.

Federal and provincial laws make discrimination due to a disability illegal. A civil lawyer might file a lawsuit on the behalf of a client who is the victim of discrimination because of a disability.

Source: Cambridge Times, "Blind man wins human rights case after restaurant bars guide dog", Jonathan Forani, July 05, 2014

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