US Attorney’s Office Settles ADA Dispute Involving Service Animals at Westborn Markets

Detroit, MI – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan announced today that it has reached a settlement with Westborn Inc., owner and operators of Westborn Markets in Plymouth, Dearborn, Livonia, and Berkley, MI, to resolve an allegation that it improperly interrogated 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 man with a disability who uses a service animal who alleged that an Westborn employee demanded written proof that his dog was a service animal and was asked to leave the market when he refused. 

“People with disabilities who use service animals should not have to suffer through invasive questions or provide written documentation for their dogs in order to go grocery shopping or engage in other activities of daily living,” said Saima Mohsin, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. “If it is not obvious that a dog is a service animal, a store may ask only two questions: 1) Is the animal required because of a disability? and 2) What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform? Anything beyond that is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Under the settlement agreement, Westborn Inc. will adopt a non-discrimination policy with specific service animal provisions, train all of its employees on the ADA, and prominently display in each store a notice indicating that service animals are welcome.

The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by public accommodations, such as grocery stores and retail markets. Public accommodations must allow people with disabilities the full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, and facilities, which includes making reasonable modifications of their policies, practices, and procedures to permit people with disabilities to be accompanied by service animals. 

The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan was established in 2010 with the mission of prioritizing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, including a copy of settlement agreement with Westborn Inc., please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-edmi/programs/civil-rights.  ADA complaints may be emailed to usamie.civilrights@usdoj.gov or by contacting the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Civil Rights Hotline at (313) 226-9151.

More information about the ADA is available at the Justice Department’s toll free ADA Information line at (800) 514 0301 or (800) 514 0383 (TTY) and on the ADA website at www.ada.gov

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