DETROIT, MI - A settlement with Western Inc., owner and operator of Westborn Markets in Plymouth, Dearborn, Livonia, and Berkley, MI, was announced on July 26, 2021, by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. This settlement was resolved after an allegation that an individual with a disability accompanied by a service animal is improperly interrogated.
A complaint through Civil Rights Hotline was made by a man with a disability who uses a service animal, who said that a Westborn employee demanded written proof that his dog was a service animal and was asked to leave the market when he refused. The US Attorney’s Office then began the investigation.
“People with disabilities who use service animals should not have to suffer through invasive questions or provide written documentation for their dogs to go grocery shopping or engage in other activities of daily living,” said Saima Mohsin, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Mohsin also mentioned that when it is not obvious that a dog is a service animal, a store may ask only two questions: 1) Is the animal required because of a disability? and 2) What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform? Anything beyond that is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
With this settlement, Westborn Inc. has agreed to adopt a non-discrimination policy, specifically with service animal provisions, to train all of its employees on the ADA, and conspicuously display a notice that informs service animals are welcome in each of its stores.
The ADA further prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by public accommodations. Places such as grocery stores and retail markets must allow people with disabilities the full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, and facilities. The ADA asks to make reasonable modifications of public accommodations policies, practices, and procedures that allow people with disabilities to be accompanied by service animals.