Restaurant pays damages for treatment of customer with service d - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Restaurant pays damages for treatment of customer with service dog

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source: WDAM source: WDAM
HATTIESBURG, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

On December 21, a Hattiesburg Restaurant agrees to pay damages after poor treatment of a disabled customer with her service dog.

In September 2013, a woman named Vickie Killingsworth and her service dog went to Grand China Buffet Restaurant in Hattiesburg.

The hostess told them no dogs were allowed and they had to leave the premises. Killingsworth was in a wheelchair and explained the dog was her service animal and she had the right to be served like all other patrons. 

Eventually, restaurant staff allowed Killingsworth to stay and eat but they sat her in a corner far away from other customers. 

As Killingsworth approached the front of the restaurant to leave, a staff person met her at the front door to tell her, `Next time no dog.’

She tried to explain the law regarding service animals, he waved his hand toward the door, raised his voice in an angry tone and said, `Go!’ ”

Grand China Buffet Restaurant and its owner, Zhen Fei Chen, entered into a Settlement Agreement with the United States following an investigation conducted by the U. S. Attorney’s Office.

The investigation concluded that Killingsworth had been denied her civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act as the result of the treatment she received while at the restaurant.

Even though Grand China Buffet eventually allowed Killingsworth and her service dog to enter the restaurant, she was restricted to a certain area and told to never return with her dog.

It is the restaurant owner’s responsibility to properly train staff in this regard to prevent such discrimination, embarrassment and humiliation.

Killingsworth was paid $2,500.00 in compensatory damages by the restaurant, and a civil penalty of $500.00 was paid to the United States in order to partially vindicate the public interest.

The restaurant's owners and employees (now and in the future) must undergo specific training regarding customers with service animals; signs must be posted on the exterior entrances of the business alerting patrons that persons accompanied by their service animals will be welcomed; and the settlement also prohibits future discrimination at the restaurant. 

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