Martha Coakley | The Office of Martha Coakley
A coffee bar and a tavern reached settlements with Massachusetts Attorney General on Wednesday over allegations that they denied service to a disabled patron who had a therapy animal.
Sweetwater Tavern and 7 Pond Coffee Bar, both in the Boston Area, will pay approximately $5,000 in compensation to the patron and reimbursement to the state, in addition to changing their policies.
“Service animals are a vital tool for individuals with disabilities,” Coakley said. “Massachusetts businesses must understand they cannot exclude disabled individuals from places of public accommodation.”
In January, Sweetwater Tavern, owned by Sweetness Entertainment, Inc., allegedly told a woman with a service dog she couldn't sit at the bar, then told her she wasn't allowed to sit at any table in the restaurant. In April, 7 Pond Coffee Bar, owned by Cafe Fixe, Inc., allegedly told the same woman that she couldn't enter the establishment with her dog.
The woman was asked to provide documentation for the service dog at both businesses, but there's no documentation process for service animals in Massachusetts. Public establishments also are not permitted to ask for such documentation or to ask about patrons' disabilities.
The owner of 7 Pond Coffee Bar will pay $1,500 of the settlement, and Sweetwater Tavern will pay $3,500.