TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced a settlement on Thursday with an Essex County delicatessen to resolve allegations it unlawfully refused to allow a man's guide dog to enter the store.
An employee with the Bloomfield-based Broughten Deli allegedly asked Dalvin Adebiyi, a Bloomfield resident, to remove his dog. Despite the fact that Adebiyi was being accompanied by an orientation and mobility specialist employed by the New Jersey Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the employee allegedly persisted in his call to remove the dog.
Under the terms of the settlement, Broughten Deli must pay Adebiyi $1,500, train its employees regarding their legal obligations when dealing with service animals and provide employees with sensitivity training.
In a separate matter, Hoffman's Division on Civil Rights issued a finding of no probable cause in the case of a California man who accused Morristown Memorial Hospital of discriminating by refusing to accommodate his 12-pound-poodle, which he claimed to have trained as a service dog.
The division found the dog failed to receive the type of training associated with a service dog.
"Both of these outcomes are significant because they involve an area of the law that is important to many people with disabilities and because, frankly, there is confusion and misinformation out there regarding the law," Hoffman said. "In New Jersey, a person accompanied by a properly trained service animal cannot be barred or restricted from using a place of public accommodation. However, of necessity, we must have standards and we must have rules."
Service dogs must be individually trained to the requirements of a person with a disability. Service dog trainers must be employed by an organization generally recognized by agencies involved in the rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities as reputable and competent.
"An individual cannot simply declare his or her dog a service animal," Hoffman said. "There is responsibility and accountability on both sides of the service dog issue."