WaWa Inc. to Pay $12,500 in Service-Dog Case

by Sue on August 22, 2012

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WaWa Inc. has paid Patrick Stark, a New Jersey glassworks artist, $12,500 to settle a claim that Stark was wrongfully turned away when he entered the convenience store with his service dog.

Stark, 33, said he went into a Millville, N.J., WaWa to buy a sandwich on June 13 but was told he had to leave Copenhagen, his Queensland heeler that wears special tags, outside. But the dog is a necessity. Three years ago, Stark, an Army veteran, was mugged and has experienced occasional seizures ever since. Copenhagen helps him get around.

Stark claimed he explained that the dog was legally permitted to remain, but a store manager told him to leave. This was the fifth time since April 2011 that Stark said he’d a problem getting served at WaWa. After each incident, he said he’d written a letter to corporate headquarters, but heard nothing.

Stark subsequently filed a complaint with the New Jersey State Attorney General’s office Division on Civil Rights.

WaWa has agreed, in addition to the $12,500 payment, to post signs in its New Jersey stores advising customers that service dogs were welcome. It has also agreed to train its New Jersey employees about laws pertaining to service animals, as well as the company policy welcoming them.

The convenience store chain has also agreed to “seriously consider” making a charitable contribution to an organization devoted to providing service animals to individuals with disabilities, according to the complaint filed with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.

” Since the incident we have been revisiting associate training and understanding around service animals in all of our stores throughout our five state area and we will continue to make this a priority,” said a WaWa spokesperson. “We are committed to doing everything we can to make sure everyone in all of the communities we serve feels welcomed, respected and included.”

The convenience store chain did not admit any wrongdoing in the Stark case.

“This is an important resolution of this matter,” said Division Director Craig T. Sashihara in a statement. “The allegations in this case were troubling. However, we credit WaWa for its responsiveness, and for being ready to educate store employees about the rights of people who employ service animals.”

Note from me:

This individual actually contacted me right after this incident. I told him what they did was illegal. I am glad he won. The only disturbing thing I find is that the company still admits they did nothing wrong. What is the point of suing someone if they are not going to learn from their mistakes?

Sussie and the Friendly Foursome
Gunny, Rainy, Lucy and Squeaky

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris Taylor 08.23.12 at 11:38 am

Now only if the national park service would do the same. I have to appear before a judge and defend myself as does my wife against charges that we had a PET in the Hawaii Volcanoes national Park when it was my service dog Kona along with charges that we failed to obey a lawful order for not showing a Identification card to the park rangers proving that Kona my service dog was a service dog. I have been informed by the National Park Police Captain Jeffery Wasserman along with park rangers that they DO NOT have to follow the ADA.So we must now pay out thousands of dollars to fly to Hawaii and appear before the court, all because they feel that they do not have to obey the ADA.

2 Chuck 08.27.12 at 6:30 am

i am glad you found this as I was going to send, I am away and read this in a local newspaper here. Millville is about 20 miles from me.

3 Lainie 08.27.12 at 7:16 am

My empathy is with you. There is a great deal of prejudice regarding our service dogs. I am wheelchair bound with deminished hearing along with multiple losses and have a service dog for alert as well as emotional support. People seem to think we want to get away with things like airline payments and dog licecses. I can not live without my dog.
Keep fighting and start a fund through your bank to support your travel expenses.
Good Luck,

4 Bob Harcarik 08.27.12 at 7:31 am

I went to visit my sister after she had a hysterectomy and was told that I had to leave because my dog was not permitted on that floor because it was sterile with a surgical unit. Well I wasn’t in surgery, and no one else visiting was sterile so what was the problem??

5 Charles Vanderriff 08.27.12 at 7:40 am

I bought into Spanish Cove Life Care in Yukon OK, I had a service dog for almost 15 years that had died. Was told would be no problem it I got another one, I am deaf in left ear and lost in right ear and test deaf, I got Canyon in May 2007. Since then the CEO and Board has refused to honnor the ADA. Walked on egg shells Threatend that if I did not obey there rules that they have changed we would be evectied.

6 Charles Vanderriff 08.27.12 at 7:47 am

I bought into Spanish Cove Life Care in Yukon OK, I had a service dog for almost 15 years that had died. Was told would be no problem it I got another one, I am deaf in left ear and lost in right ear and test deaf, I got Canyon in May 2007. Since then the CEO and Board has refused to honor the ADA. Walked on egg shells Threatend that if I did not obey there rules that they have changed we would be evectied.
I filed a complaint October 28 2011. It is still draging The HUD invetagator has it and was to get back to me. Been three month plus since last talke to her. Still waiting. In meantime I can not use are go to anything. They have letters from the Heart doctor and Primary still refuse. Attorny will not take the case as long as I live here.
It has been a nightmare.

7 Sue Hill 08.27.12 at 8:28 am

Recently traveled to visit family in CT my hometown. I have had no issues in North and South Carolina where I live and travel regularly eating in all types of restaurants and buying food in gorcery and superstores. This trip North I had numerous issues entering restaurants even ones with casual outside eating area, superstores which had vendors who sold food and grocery stores. In each case I showed the vest on my papillon, showed my enlarged tags and in one case offered my magnifier to assists the owner in reading the ADA law. Most I barged threw anyway but my family was very upset (elderly parents and siblings) This had not happened in the past. Is there something going on in Ct that I am not aware of (witch hunt) or recent negative incidents.

8 Sue Hill 08.27.12 at 8:36 am

Also wanted to mentioned that in no NC medical facilities have Willow and I had any issues. She has stayed with me in the hospital, gone through all my appointments and treatments even sitting in a chair during physical therapy and medical tests. I hope this becomes the norm everywhere.

9 Allice Allen 08.27.12 at 11:06 am

This is an on going problem in lots of states. Corporate does not train there employees so that they will follow the laws and they get very rude. I am glad for Patrick and hope this will set an example for other business. They still think that the dogs are pets and not service dog, that is what I run into all the time in Boise Idaho. It is now mostly grocery stores, like Winco Foods and Fred Meyer if one person in a position of power is new to the store then I go through it all again. I filled a complaint with DOJ a year ago in Oct. But I check and nothing has been done. It is really depressing. I am glad it worked out for Patrick I hope that it will help others. Thanks for reading Allice and Little Girl

10 Allice Allen 08.27.12 at 11:14 am

Hi I was wondering Chris about the national park stuff and having to fly to appear in court. Can your doctor write letters that you can not fly? I was wondering if the Attorney General Office could help you in anyway? And did you call or write the DOJ/ADA about whey the national park says they do not have to follow federal Laws, Rules and Regulations? Lastly what about a civil law attorney that might take your case for all of the disabled and our service dogs? I am just asking or seeing if you have checked into any of this. Only trying to help, Allice and Little Girl

11 Allice Allen 08.27.12 at 11:16 am

Sorry I meant Charles V.

12 Sherlei 08.27.12 at 11:46 am

I recently traveled with Amtrak and was told in the Portland OR office when asked for my ID, I gave them mine and my service dogs Id, was told I don’t care about your dog, but you must proove to me you are disabled.. I asked how? She said you get medicare right? show me your medicare card ( which of course has my soc sec number on it) so normally I do not carry but I had just come from my mds office so had on me.. I showed her and then she gave me my ticket. I contacted amtrak and was told we have the right to ask or anyone could say they are disabled.. I told her if is a huge fine to pretend. she said oh we can ask, so I filed a claim with the bbb of wa dc where their main headquarters is… still pending…

13 Wendy 08.27.12 at 11:51 am

I had a problem with a store that I have been going to since it opened. a new manager tried to tell us we had to take Bella out to the truck because pets were not allowed because of food. She has a tag that reads “Diabetic Alert Service Dog” on her collar. I told him he was in the wrong and kept shopping. I figure let him call the cops because he would be made a fool of not us. I went home wrote a letter and included the ADA law and high lighted parts of it. I told if it did not stop that I would go higher up. He now gives me dirty looks but says nothing when we come in. She’s a small dog that lays in the child seat on a blanket. I’ve had as a SD for 41/2 yrs now.

14 Sherlei 08.27.12 at 2:13 pm

Sussie ( owner of this blog) stated that Amtrak is not regulated by ada but dot.. so I have contacted Dot and waiting for a return call.. I know Alaska had a major problem similar to this and ended up with so much flack.. that they compensated the man big time plus issued a public graphology and stated they would retrain employees… lets hope Amtrak follows suit

15 Lester Kushner 08.28.12 at 12:58 am

I recently entered a Subway restaurant where I was asked to lift my Medical alert dog over the counter so that the manager could see the county tags. This was not only a health issue as there was food on the counter, but a clear violation of ADA. She said it was company policy and it was legal to see the tags and identify my medical condition. I left without taking nor paying for the order. I filed a complaint with public health and corporate. Public health initially endorsed their corporate policy, so I went to the top. There the supervisor said he would advise his people that a) it is not his job to comment on ADA and b) he was wrong and he would have memos and classes to explain ADA. He also asked me to clarify some points of ADA which I gladly did. Next I had a manager for Subway call me and initially said that is their policy and he is sorry to lose my business. I advised him that based on that response, I would file a formal complaint for restricting me from their stores unless I met their unlawful regulations. Within 24 hours he called me back and thanked me, as he reviewed the law and admitted they were in the wrong, and he would have training sessions for his store managers.
P.S. for people having problems with Airlines, airports, and public transportation such as Amtrack, we have contacted the Department of Transportation, and in each situation the D.O.T. contacted them and they reversed their decisions. D.O.T. has been ADA friendly regarding service dogs.

16 E 08.28.12 at 10:21 pm

What a shame that we have to go through all of this just to live life to the fullest (of our abilities). The injustice is widespread and the ignorance even greater than I ever would have expected.

I work for a private company that in no way would allow my SD to come to work with me (they have said so). I happen to work at a company in an “at will” state and if I brought my SD to work against their wishes, I would be let go. Good luck to me, to prove that they let me go because I brought my SD. Companies in “at will” states do not even have to give you a reason for firing you. It doesn’t matter that I have been with the company for more than six years.

I have RA and have some really good days and some really, really bad days. The Handicapped parking is by the public entrance, while the spaces near the time clock (employee entrance – which I must use to punch in and out), are for the “Employee of the Month” and “Expectant Mothers”. Unlike the two groups that the parking is reserved and intended for, I will have RA for my entire life and not just a month or nine. The public entrance that I use does not even have a door with an automatic opener (neither does the employee entrance).

Bringing my SD to work would be such a great help to me as she assists me in getting around (on my bad days) and I am in the process of teaching her to pick up items (as I have trouble bending at the knees).

17 Alexandra Farber 09.12.12 at 9:45 am

I was recently a summer associate at Moses & Singer, LLP in New York City, where I worked closely with David Lackowitz. David is a talented attorney who has had incredible success representing disabled U.S. veterans who suffer discrimination by institutions and establishments due to their reliance on service animals. If you or someone you know has encountered such discrimination, I would be happy to put you in touch with him. You can reach me at ajfarber@gmail.com. David’s bio is below:

18 Sussie Due 09.13.12 at 9:42 am

Yes. I am familiar with him. He has purchased tags from us in the past. Very nice guy. I have spoke with him over the phone.

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