Detroit, MI – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan announced today that it has reached a settlement with Joyce’s Farm Market, a produce store and greenhouse located in Ottawa Lake, Michigan to resolve an allegation that it refused service to an individual with a disability accompanied by a service animal. The investigation began after the US Attorney’s Office received a complaint through its Civil Rights Hotline from a woman who is blind who alleged that she was told to leave the market because of her dog, even after she explained that it was a service animal. During the investigation, physical barriers to access were also discovered at the market.
“Service animals are not pets. People with disabilities who are accompanied by a service animal are entitled to come and go freely throughout their communities, including shopping establishments, on an equal basis as others,” said Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. “We are pleased that Joyce’s Farm Market has agreed to take steps to ensure that service animals are properly recognized and that the people who use them are welcomed and accepted.”
Under the settlement agreement, Joyce’s Farm Market will adopt a non-discrimination policy with specific service animal provisions, train all its employees on the ADA, remove barriers to access in the store building and parking lot, and pay money damages to the complainant.
The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by public accommodations, such as grocery stores and retail markets. Public accommodations must allow people with disabilities the full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, and facilities, which includes making reasonable modifications of their policies, practices, and procedures to permit people with disabilities to be accompanied by service animals.
The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan was established in 2010 with the mission of prioritizing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, including a copy of settlement agreement with Joyce’s Farm Market, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-edmi/programs/civil-rights. ADA complaints may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting the U.S. Attorney's Office’s Civil Rights Hotline at (313) 226-9151.
More information about the ADA is available at the Justice Department’s toll free ADA Information line at (800) 514 0301 or (800) 514 0383 (TTY) and on the ADA website at www.ada.gov.