A military veteran walked into a restaurant, was seated, and proceeded to order his breakfast. Soon after, however, the manager marched over and kicked him out. Was the restaurant wrong?
Major Diggs Brown is a veteran who spent more than 30 years in the Army. And, his service to our country didn’t leave him unscathed. When he returned from Afghanistan, he suffered from PTSD. Sadly, when the Colorado soldier went to a restaurant in Chicago, the staff had a horrible way of “thanking” him for his sacrifice.
As he tried to sit down for a nice breakfast at Cochon Volant on West Monroe Street, he got a rude response to his presence. Because of his PTSD, Major Brown’s service dog Arthur has been by his side for years. Such was the case when he found himself being thrown out of the Chicago restaurant, CBS Local reported.
“When my service dog and I walked in, the hostess took us to the table, and the young lady named Hannah, she said you can’t have a dog in the restaurant,” Brown recalled. Of course, he knew she was wrong. So, keeping his cool, he told her that the Americans with Disabilities Act says otherwise. “This is my service dog, he can go wherever I go, it’s the law,” Brown told the hostess.
He was seated and placed his order, but it wasn’t long before Hannah was approaching him again. This time, she told him he had to leave. Again, he told her that Arthur is a service dog and that she would be violating the law, but she said, “I don’t care, you need to leave, we don’t have dogs in the restaurant.” Humiliated, Brown left. He went to the airport and headed back home to Fort Collins, but the incident stuck with him.
Arthur is more than just a dog. He’s an important and necessary part of the veteran’s life. “He does a lot of things. He wakes me up from nightmares when I have them. When I have anxiety attacks, he calms me down. He saved my life and I’m even off the drugs,” Brown explained. So, he knew he had to share his story.
“When I got home, I posted to my Facebook page, this is what happened to me and it went viral,” Brown recalled. After explaining that he, a veteran, and his service dog were refused service and asked to leave, Brown wrote, “Guess this would be a case of ‘No thanks for your service.’” And, it went viral because he was absolutely right.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), service dogs generally must be permitted in all places where the public is allowed to go with only a very few specific exceptions. Restaurants are not one of them. They cannot bar service dogs from accompanying their owners.
Sadly, it seems this isn’t common knowledge among waitstaff and restaurant employees. Luckily, in this case, the establishment involved made attempts to correct their mistake.
The manager of the restaurant called Brown personally and emailed him an apology as well. They also addressed the issue on Facebook. “The Cochon Volant family is both saddened and disappointed to hear this account of a veteran’s experience,” the restaurant wrote in response.
“Not only are we 100% aware of and in compliance with all ADA regulations regarding service dogs, we also have an acute appreciation for the service of veterans and we are happy to welcome staff members and employees who have honorably served this country,” the owners of Cochon Volant continued.
In addition, the restaurant began an immediate internal review of their protocol on training staff in regards to ADA regulations and said it was making a donation to Puppies Behind Bars, where Arthur was trained. Brown, who says he’s never been asked to leave because of his service dog before, said he holds no hard feelings and he’s happy with the resolution.
“It’s not my intent to destroy a restaurant but it is my intent to make them aware that they have violated a law that not only affects veterans with dogs, but other people with disabilities with service laws and that they need to be aware that it’s discrimination,” he said. “They’ve stepped up to the plate and they are going to make some changes at the restaurant so I’m happy in my mind that it is resolved.”
As for the employee who told him to leave, Brown said, “I really hope this young lady isn’t fired for this, she just needed to be educated.” Indeed, education is needed because Major Diggs Brown’s experience isn’t the first of its kind.
Education beforehand would do a lot more good than terminating people after the fact. That’s why it’s important for everyone to hear this story. Hopefully, sharing what happened to Major Brown and his dog Arthur will keep this from happening to another soldier. Our veterans should be thanked for their service, not denied service unlawfully.