In a McDonalds restaurant in Norway, a woman was forced to leave as a result of being accompanied by her guide dog. Tina Marie Asikainen, complained on Facebook after she and her five-year-old daughter were forced to leave by the fast-food giant in tears – with five employees asking loudly that they leave.
Ms Asikainen attempted to visit the McDonalds last Friday with her guide dog Rex, who wears a fluorescent jacket clearly marked “Guide Dog”. She said: “We had with Rex with us when we ordered food. But after two minutes, before we had eaten the food, one of the employees came and asked us to leave because we had a dog.”
Ms Asikainen tried to explain to staff that Rex was a guide dog and showed them her identity card as proof, however, she said they were not interested in reading it. Ms Asikainen says the experience was very upsetting and embarrassing and called the police who spoke to the staff about the incident. It is anticipated that she will press charges against the restaurant.
It is illegal in Norway for hospitality owners to discriminate against or refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by a guide dog, as it is in the UK. Today we look at the law in this area.
Can a guide dog go anywhere?
Guide dog owners and other disabled, blind or partially sighted individuals are granted specific protections and rights under the Equality Act 2010,
The Equality Act 2010 gives blind or partially sighted people the right to access the same services as everyone else in restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops. Owners of establishments have a duty to ensure that disabled people are able to access their services – this includes making a reasonable adjustment for guide dogs.
Where premises owners operate a ‘no dogs’ policy, this should be amended to accommodate guide dogs. Such reasonable adjustments may also be:
- Requiring staff to read out the menu for partially sighted or blind customers, or providing a menu in large print or Braille.
- Providing assistance with buffet meals or in self-service restaurants.
- Creating a seating area for guide dog owners that gives the dog room to lie down under the table as they are trained to do. On this point, however, guide dog owners should not be given a lower standard of seating or service to accommodate this.
- Offering assistance with bill paying or counting change.
- Ensuring that staff are aware that additional effort and service may be required for those who are partially sighted or blind.
- Where reasonable adjustments are not made, premises owners may find themselves facing a discrimination claim.
For more information on discrimination, read our guides.
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