Human Resources News & Insights

5 words your training programs must include now

If you’re not teaching your employees and their managers this wrinkle in federal law (and some employers clearly aren’t), you’re inviting legal trouble. 

The law in question? The ADA.

The wrinkle? That it applies to customers as much as it applies to employees.

Surely, you’re covering the employee-side of the ADA at length with your managers. But it’s easy for the customer-specific provisions to get overlooked — and they apply not just to your managers, but also to their subordinates.

Thankfully, there’s a great phrase that can simplify what your workers’ responsibilities are under the law when it comes to customers: “Try to accommodate disabled customers” … period.

Bakery gets cooked for kicking out service dog

This issue was recently brought to light — in a bad way — when an employee at Dick’s Bakery in Berea, OH, told a blind patron she had to take her service dog outside.

The incident created a firestorm of criticism — and lost business, no doubt — for the bakery. Thankfully, for the business, it appears the incident won’t result in a lawsuit — as the patron appears to have accepted its apology graciously.

Nevertheless, the incident has created a teaching moment.

What the law requires

Title III of the ADA “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in activities of places of public accommodations.”

“Places of public accommodations,” are those that, generally, are open to the public and fall into one of 12 categories:

  • Places of lodging
  • Establishments serving food or drink
  • Places of exhibition or entertainment
  • Places of public gathering
  • Sales or rental establishments
  • Service establishments
  • Public transportation terminals, depots or stations
  • Places of public display or collection
  • Places of recreation
  • Places of education
  • Social service center establishments, and
  • Places of exercise or recreation.

If you fall under one of those categories, you’ve got to try to accommodate disabled individuals when they visit your establishment.

Title III specifically says that accommodations must be made for service dogs that are trained to do work or perform tasks for disabled individuals.

Sure, there are myriad other rules and regulations as to what is and isn’t required of these establishments. But our guess is you’ll be fine as long your employees do everything possible to try to accommodate disabled customers.

That message just needs to permeate through upper management all the way down to your front-line employees.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t what was happening at Dick’s Bakery — despite the employee responsible for asking the service dog to leave having been on the job for 50 years.

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