Justice and Public Safety
February 16, 2016

Human Rights Commission Releases Decision Related to Service Animal Legislation

The following is being issued at the request of the Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador:

In a decision released February 8, 2016, a Human Rights Board of Inquiry has made a finding of discrimination against a taxi company for failing to provide service to a sight impaired women who was accompanied by a service animal. The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission agrees with the decision and feels that it sends the right message to service providers that the rights of persons with a disability accompanied by service animals cannot be ignored. The decision can be found at www.justice.gov.nl.ca/hrc/complaints/decisions.html.

In April 2013 the complainant, Anne Malone, attempted to obtain a ride from three separate taxis at a taxi stand in downtown St. John’s. She was denied service by two taxi drivers. A third taxi driver also abruptly drove away from the taxi stand when Ms. Malone approached.

Both the Service Animal Act which became law in 2012 and the Human Rights Act, 2010 seek to protect persons with a disability from discrimination or a denial of services, facilities and accommodation which are available to the public for reason only that they are accompanied by a service animal.

The Board of Inquiry ordered that the taxi company pay the individual $5,000 in compensation and has ordered the company to undergo training provided by the commission on the appropriate accommodation of persons with a disability, particularly those with visual impairments.

“There are laws in this province that clearly protect individuals from this type of discrimination and no person with a disability should have to experience a situation like this. Hopefully this decision will raise awareness and prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.”
- Carey Majid, Executive Director, Human Rights Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador

The Human Rights Commission conducts public education and training sessions in order to make the public aware of their respective human rights and responsibilities. The commission offers training sessions to organizations upon request and also provides guidelines on its website for topics of public interest. The commission has posted a Guideline on the Use of Service Animals on its website at www.justice.gov.nl.ca/hrc/publications/index.html#guidelines

The commission can be contacted at 729-2709 or humanrights@gov.nl.ca to arrange an information session.

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Media contact:

Donna L. Strong
Legal Counsel
Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission

2016 02 16                              10:45 a.m.