16 September 2014
The recent Uber lawsuit
On September 9, 2014, Uber Technologies was sued in Federal Court in San Francisco for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California’s Unruh Act. The suit arose from the claim that UberX drivers refused to allow blind riders to bring their guide dogs. For a copy of the complaint, click here to see Natl Federation of the Blind v. Uber Technologies.
This is just the latest in an long history of complaints or enforcement actions involving the legal requirements concerning “service animals” under the ADA and corresponding state laws such as California’s Unruh Act.
Why public facilities are subject to these service animal rules
Like Uber taxis, all hotels, restaurants, spas, retail facilities, movie theatres, and sports and entertainment venues are places of public accommodation. As such, they are expressly subject to the ADA and corresponding state laws.
Because so many people ask us about the “service animal” issues, we thought it might be helpful to provide our industry friends with some guidelines on the major questions in this area through a series of frequently asked questions or FAQs about this subject.
FAQs about the ADA’s legal requirements for service animals
Jim Butler & Marty Orlick
ADA Defense & Compliance Lawyers
Here are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions on service animal issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA.
What qualifies as a “service animal?”
Businesses . . . may ask only two questions of individuals regarding their service animals . . .
Under the ADA, a dog or miniature horse that “is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability” qualifies as a service animal. The “work” or “tasks” performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. For example, the service animal might pull a wheelchair, guide a visually impaired person, or assist an individual with psychiatric disabilities.
Comfort animals and pets are NOT service animals. Comfort animals merely provide emotional support and are not individually trained to assist with a disability.
What can you ask a customer who enters your business with an animal?
Businesses and their representatives who come in contact with the public may ask only two questions of individuals regarding their service animals: CONTINUE READING →