Hattiesburg restaurant fined for refusing service to woman with - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Hattiesburg restaurant fined for refusing service to woman with service dog

When Vickie Killingsworth and her service dog showed up to eat at the Grand China Buffet Restaurant, the hostess said 'No dogs are allowed' and told her to leave the premises. (Photo source: WDAM) When Vickie Killingsworth and her service dog showed up to eat at the Grand China Buffet Restaurant, the hostess said 'No dogs are allowed' and told her to leave the premises. (Photo source: WDAM)
HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) -

The owners of a Chinese restaurant in Hattiesburg will have to pay after initially refusing to seat a woman and her service dog on September 11, 2013. 

When Vickie Killingsworth and her service dog showed up to eat at the Grand China Buffet Restaurant, the hostess said 'No dogs are allowed' and told her to leave the premises.

U.S. Attorney Gregory Davis said Killingsworth, who uses a wheelchair, told the hostess the dog was her service animal, and that she had a right to be seated and treated just like any other patron. Eventually, the staff seated Killingsworth and her friends, but they were put in a corner, away from all other customers, near a service area. 
As Killingsworth went to leave, a staff member met her at the front door and said, "Next time no dog." As Killingsworth again tried to explain the law regarding service animals, the man waved his hand toward the door, raised his voice in an angry tone and said, "Go!"

An investigation by the US Attorney’s Office found Killingsworth was denied her civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Restaurant owner Zhen Fei Chen agreed to pay Killingsworth $2,500 in compensatory damages, and pay a civil penalty of $500. 

The restaurant's owner must also properly train staff to prevent similar "discrimination, embarrassment and humiliation." Signs will have to be posted on the exterior entrances of the business alerting patrons that those accompanied by their service animals will be welcomed. 

"We appreciate the cooperation of Grand China Buffet and Zhen Fei Chen in bringing about an amicable resolution of this matter," Davis said. "Service animals play a vital role in providing independence for persons with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act will be fully enforced in this District." 

Davis said if anyone else has experienced similar discriminatory actions based on a disability - including barriers to access to public accommodations, effective communication issues for those with sensory impairments, or other discrimination - to contact Assistant United States Attorney Pshon Barrett at (601) 965-4480 or email at pshon.barrett@usdoj.gov.

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