DISABLED PERSONS CIVIL RIGHTS

Disabled Persons Civil Rights
California Penal Code Section 365:
July 26, 1996

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Association of Attorneys General have formed a Disability Rights Task Force to promote and protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.

We have found that many businesses across the country have prohibited individuals with disabilities who use service animals from entering their premises, in many instances because of ignorance or confusion about the animal's appropriate use. This document provides specific information about the legal requirements regarding individuals with disabilities who use service animals. It was prepared by the Task Force to assist businesses in complying voluntarily with the Americans with Disabilities Act and applicable state laws.

Twenty-four state attorneys general* are distributing a similar document (including state specific requirements) to associations representing restaurants, hotels and motels, and retailers for dissemination to their members.

We encourage you to share this document with businesses and people with disabilities and their families in your community.

Deval L. Patrick
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice Scott Harshbarger
Attorney General State of Massachusetts
President, National Association of Attorneys General

* Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT
SERVICE ANIMALS IN PLACES OF BUSINESS


Q: What are the laws that apply to my business?

A: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.

Q: What is a service animal?

A: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. "Seeing eye dogs" are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

* Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.
* Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.
* Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

Q: How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?

A: Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.

 

Q: What must I do when an individual with a service animal comes to my business?

A: The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers.

Q: I have always had a clearly posted "no pets" policy at my establishment. Do I still have to allow service animals in?

A: Yes. A service animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your "no pets" policy to allow the use of a service animal by a person with a disability. This does not mean you must abandon your "no pets" policy altogether but simply that you must make an exception to your general rule for service animals.

Q: My county health department has told me that only a seeing eye or guide dog has to be admitted. If I follow those regulations, am I violating the ADA?

A: Yes, if you refuse to admit any other type of service animal on the basis of local health department regulations or other state or local laws. The ADA provides greater protection for individuals with disabilities and so it takes priority over the local or state laws or regulations.

Q: Can I charge a maintenance or cleaning fee for customers who bring service animals into my business?

A: No. Neither a deposit nor a surcharge may be imposed on an individual with a disability as a condition to allowing a service animal to accompany the individual with a disability, even if deposits are routinely required for pets. However, a public accommodation may charge its customers with disabilities if a service animal causes damage so long as it is the regular practice of the entity to charge non-disabled customers for the same types of damages. For example, a hotel can charge a guest with a disability for the cost of repairing or cleaning furniture damaged by a service animal if it is the hotel's policy to charge when non-disabled guests cause such damage.

 

Q: I operate a private taxicab and I don't want animals in my taxi; they smell, shed hair and sometimes have "accidents." Am I violating the ADA if I refuse to pick up someone with a service animal?

A: Yes. Taxicab companies may not refuse to provide services to individuals with disabilities. Private taxicab companies are also prohibited from charging higher fares or fees for transporting individuals with disabilities and their service animals than they charge to other persons for the same or equivalent service.


Q: Am I responsible for the animal while the person with a disability is in my business?

A: No. The care or supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of his or her owner. You are not required to provide care or food or a special location for the animal.

Q: What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?

A: You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other guests or customers may be excluded. You may not make assumptions, however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on your past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually.
Although a public accommodation may exclude any service animal that is out of control, it should give the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of continuing to enjoy its goods and services without having the service animal on the premises.

Q: Can I exclude an animal that doesn't really seem dangerous but is disruptive to my business?

A: There may be a few circumstances when a public accommodation is not required to accommodate a service animal--that is, when doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the business. Generally, this is not likely to occur in restaurants, hotels, retail stores, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities. But when it does, for example, when a dog barks during a movie, the animal can be excluded.

If you have further questions about service animals or other requirements of the ADA, you may call the U.S. Department of Justice's toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).


DUPLICATION OF THIS DOCUMENT IS ENCOURAGED.
California Penal Code Section 365:
Right of Disabled Person to Have
Service Animal in Public Places

365. Every person, and every agent or officer of any corporation carrying on business as an innkeeper, or as a common carrier of passengers, who refuses, without just cause or excuse, to receive and entertain any guest, or to receive and carry any passenger, is guilty of a misdemeanor. However, an innkeeper who has proceeded as authorized by Section 1865 of the Civil Code shall be rebuttably presumed to have acted with just cause or excuse for purposes of this section.

365.5. (a) Any blind person, deaf person, or disabled person, who is a passenger on any common carrier, airplane, motor vehicle, railway train, motorbus, streetcar, boat, or any other public conveyance or mode of transportation operating within this state, shall be entitled to have with him or her a specially trained guide dog, signal dog, or service dog.

(b) No blind person, deaf person, or disabled person and his or her specially trained guide dog, signal dog, or service dog shall be denied admittance to accommodations, advantages, facilities, medical facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and physicians' offices, telephone facilities, adoption agencies, private schools, hotels, lodging places, places of public accommodation, amusement, or resort, and other places to which the general public is invited within this state because of that guide dog, signal dog, or service dog.

(c) Any person, firm, association, or corporation, or the agent of any person, firm, association, or corporation, who prevents a disabled person from exercising, or interferes with a disabled person in the exercise of, the rights specified in this section is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500).

(d) As used in this section, "guide dog" means any guide dog or Seeing Eye dog that was trained by a person licensed under Chapter 9.5 (commencing with Section 7200) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code or that meets the definitional criteria under federal regulations adopted to implement Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336).

(e) As used in this section, "signal dog" means any dog trained to alert a deaf person, or a person whose hearing is impaired, to intruders or sounds.

(f) As used in this section, "service dog" means any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, minimal protection work, rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.

(g) (1) Nothing in this section is intended to affect any civil remedies available for a violation of this section.

(2) This section is intended to provide equal accessibility for all owners or trainers of animals that are trained as guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs in a manner that is no less than that provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336) and the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-435).

(h) The exercise of rights specified in subdivisions (a) and (b) by any person may not be conditioned upon payment of any extra charge, provided that the person shall be liable for any provable damage done to the premises or facilities by his or her dog.

(i) Any trainer or individual with a disability may take dogs in any of the places specified in subdivisions (a) and (b) for the purpose of training the dogs as guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs. The person shall ensure that the dog is on a leash and tagged as a guide dog, signal dog, or service dog by an identification tag issued by the county clerk or animal control department as authorized by Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 30850) of Division 14 of the Food and Agricultural Code. In addition, the person shall be liable for any provable damage done to the premises or facilities by his or her dog.

365.6. (a) Any person who, with no legal justification, intentionally interferes with the use of a guide dog by harassing or obstructing the guide dog user or his or her guide dog, is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine of not less than one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) nor more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or both.

(b) As used in this section, "guide dog" means any guide dog or seeing-eye dog which was trained by a person licensed under Chapter 9.5 (commencing with Section 7200) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code or as defined in the regulations implementing Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-336), or trained by a school recognized in another state to train guide or seeing-eye dogs.

(c) Nothing in this section is intended to affect any civil remedies available for a violation of this section.

365.7. (a) Any person who knowingly and fraudulently represents himself or herself, through verbal or written notice, to be the owner or trainer of any canine licensed as, to be qualified as, or identified as, a guide, signal, or service dog, as defined in subdivisions (d), (e), and (f) of Section 365.5 and paragraph (6) of subdivision (b) of Section 54.1 of the Civil Code, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.

(b) As used in this section, "owner" means any person who owns a guide, signal, or service dog, or who is authorized by the owner to use the guide, signal, or service dog.

 

D.I.A.L. S.T.A.R.T.
Get Smart!
310.466.9696
(Los Angeles, CA)

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