US Attorney’s Office settles ADA dispute with Michigan produce store involving service animal

Blind woman alleges she was told to leave market because of dog

Courtroom gavel
Courtroom gavel

DETROIT – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan announced Monday 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 and 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 to 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 nondiscrimination 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.