Restaurant Refuses Blind Woman Service

| by Sheena Vasani
Hana Japanese Steak House and Sushi BarHana Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar

A New York restaurant manager was fired for refusing service to a blind woman because she brought along her guide dog on Jan. 28.

The woman, Mary Beth Metzger, tried to eat at Hana Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar in Guiderland, New York, with her friend Phyllis Mulaney when former manager Lui Cheng denied them service, the Times Union reports.

"The manager said, 'No dogs,' so many times, and he seated other people while basically ignoring us. It was so disrespectful," said Mullaney.

But even after explaining that he was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing them service, with lawyers dining nearby backing the two up, the manager still would not budge.

"It was so wrong for them to deny her a seat," said Cynthia LaFave, an attorney who was there with her law partners, Paul Wein and Jason Frament. She explained the three "argued for a good deal of time" with the man, yet was unsuccessful in changing his mind.

"The manager was singularly unmoved," said Metzger, adding that this was the first time in decades she’d been denied service in the area because of her guide dog.

"He kept saying Foster would scare the other customers," Metzger added. "Foster wasn't doing anything -- he was just standing there like a stuffed animal."

Instead, Cheng said it was restaurant policy that those with services animal be seated away from regular customers.

"I wanted to sit where everyone else was sitting, and we have the right to. The law is very clear," said a dissatisfied Metzger.

It was only after Metzger called police that the manager let her sit near other customers.

Since then, Metzger has contacted a disability rights attorney while the restaurant has given her a $200 gift card and fired the manager, Life With Dogs reports

I don't care about a gift card," said Metzger. "It's the principle. They've really dragged their feet on the two things I asked for."

"It's been almost two months,” she added. “This seems so simple, and it's absolutely clear: They were wrong. A quick apology, a sign, a training session for the staff, and it would have all been taken care of quietly. Instead all this time goes by and other blind people with their dogs could still be being turned away at the door. That's just not right."

Sources: Times Union, Life With Dogs / Photo credit: Life With Dogs