Settlement With Suffolk County Inn Ensures That Persons With Disabilities Have Equal Access To Public Accommodations
Attorney General Spitzer announced today a settlement with the owner of a well known Suffolk County motor inn that will protect the rights of citizens who use service animals.
In July 2003, Jacqueline Mayberry, a sight-impaired senior citizen from Florida who requires the assistance of a seeing-eye dog, filed a complaint with Spitzer's Suffolk Regional Office. The complaint alleged that Ms. Mayberry was refused a room at the Chalet Motor Inn when she and her sister attempted to check-in with her dog. She explained that her dog was a service animal allowed under the law. Nevertheless, she was denied access to a room. The sisters left and eventually found another hotel.
The settlement requires Tino Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a/ The Chalet Motor Inn, to pay restitution to Ms. Mayberry to compensate her for her expenses and inconvenience in obtaining alternative lodging and to pay a fine of $1,500. In addition the settlement requires the company to report to the Attorney General's Office all future complaints that it receives regarding its accommodations of individuals with disabilities. The company must also train its owners and employees about the rights of disabled persons under federal and state law. In addition, he company will post a sign at the front desk welcoming service animals into all of its facilities that will also serve to educate patrons about the protections under the law.
"The owners and operators of hotels, motels, restaurants and other places of public accommodation have an obligation to know the law in this area and to make sure that their employees understand and follow the law," said Spitzer. "My office will continue protecting the rights of individuals who require the assistance of service animals and make sure that they have access to public spaces."
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals who are accompanied by a service animal against discrimination in places of public accommodation, such as lodging. The law defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog or other animal trained to provide assistance to a person with a disability.
For informational brochures, an educational report on service animals, or to file a complaint with the Attorney General's Civil Rights bureau call 1-800-771-7755 or visit www.ag.ny.gov.
This investigation was conducted by Assistant Attorney General Alan Berkowitz under the supervision of Denis McElligott, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Suffolk Regional Office and Juan Merchan, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of Public Advocacy for Long Island, with the assistance of Thomas LoFrese, Senior Investigator.