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Irish Restaurant Denies Entry to Blind Woman with Guide Dog: Consequences

Sveva Valeria Castegnaro
copertina donna non vedente cacciata dal locale ok

In Ireland, a restaurant faces discrimination allegations for expelling a blind woman with a guide dog, sparking debate on equal rights.

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One thing is certain: the KOA (Kitchen of Asia) restaurant in Malahide, in Dublin, cannot be called "pet-friendly" by any means. The staff refused to accommodate Ms. Sophia Brennan because she was accompanied by Timmy, her guide dog, a clear violation of the Equal Status Act. Quoting the ruling of Penelope McGrath, the judge of the Workplace Relations Commission, the Irish Independent writes, "Ms. Brennan felt deeply humiliated, embarrassed, and distressed by the way she was treated following the incident on March 4, 2022. She also felt that other restaurant patrons understood what was happening, which further humiliated her."

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The customer stated that she had made a dinner reservation with her husband at KOA, but when she arrived at the restaurant's entrance, the manager stopped her because she was accompanied by Timmy, claiming that allowing the dog into the restaurant would be unhygienic. Mrs. Brennan's attempts to show her visually impaired certificate, Timmy's leash, or fluorescent harness were in vain; the manager was not interested. The only alternative offered by the staff was to leave her beloved and valuable four-legged friend in the courtyard, an option, of course, not even considered by Brennan.

cane ristorante Schutterstock

The condemnation ruling emphasized how she had been treated "differently," and that there was no requirement, at the time of booking, for her to specify that she would be accompanied by her dear Timmy, as it falls within the rights of the visually impaired to bring their guide dogs with them. At the time of the complaint, the restaurant apologized and promised to train its staff to handle similar situations in the future; however, Sophia deemed it necessary to proceed with her action under current equality laws.

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Several months later, the restaurant issued a response statement in which it stated its commitment to rectify the shortcomings and claimed that there would have been issues hosting Timmy that evening because some staff members suffered from asthma, and there were children in the restaurant who could have been frightened. With her ruling, Judge McGrath expressed hope that such episodes would not recur, and she ordered KOA to educate themselves about their obligations toward customers as a public establishment.

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