Some NJ businesses stopping people with service dogs from entering
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, all businesses that are open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, theaters and even taxi cabs, are prohibited from discriminating against people with service animals and must allow those service animals into whatever business areas customers are generally allowed in.
Additionally, New Jersey has a discrimination law that stipulates people with disabilities must be permitted to bring their service animals into all public accommodations.
Nevertheless, some Garden State businesses have reportedly not allowed people with disabilities to enter with a service dog.
Why don't they know?
Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, D-Essex, said when she became aware this was happening at a local restaurant, “I was just amazed that they didn’t know, had not had the proper training in reference to service dogs and people with disabilities.”
She did not identify the business but said “I was just really upset, because how can they not know that they’re supposed to service this family.”
In response, she is sponsoring legislation, A862, that requires employees of any public place be trained about how individuals with disabilities with service animals are to be treated.
She said it’s important to not only train employees about existing laws, but also to call on them to treat individuals with service animals with respect.
Tucker said her measure calls for the labor commissioner to create a pamphlet that outlines the rights of someone with disabilities to have a guide or service dog in a public place, and employers would be required to distribute the pamphlet to their employees.
"If we get any complaints we can take it further with the business," she said.
The pamphlet would include a list of topics that should be included in employee training.
While counterfeit service dog vests can be easily purchased online, Tucker pointed out that bona fide service animals should have a certificate of training for their dog.
She said an employer may satisfy the training requirement by utilizing a training program from the Division on Civil Rights within the Department of Law and Public Safety, the New Jersey State Bar Association, or any other entity.
The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee has advanced the measure, which now goes before the full Lower House.