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Montreal Eatery Fined For Dog Discrimination

07/09/2012 05:47 EDT | Updated 09/08/2012 05:12 EDT
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Quebec's Human Rights Tribunal has ordered a Montreal restaurant to pay $6,000 after a wheel-chair bound man was told his service dog would have to leave.

Michel Larochelle filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission in response to an incident at the Caverne Grecque restaurant in August 2009.

He said he was denied service at the restaurant on Prince-Arthur Street after the waiter told him his dog Cici had to leave the establishment.

Cici helps Larochelle by pulling his manual wheelchair up hills and ramps. He has been using the services of dogs from the MIRA Foundation since 1992.

The man, who was also accompanied by a friend, said they were told the dog would have to be left on the sidewalk, because it would bother other clients. Larochelle said there were few clients on the terrace and the dog was lying under the table.

Larochelle said the waiter refused to serve him even after he threatened to file a complaint with the Commission.

Last week, the Human Rights Tribunal ruled in Larochelle's favour and ordered the waiter and the restaurant had to pay $6,000 in damages.

"We cannot be treated like second-class clientele," said Larochelle.

This is not the first time Larochelle has taken this type of issue before the courts. He won a similar decision with the Tribunal in 2005 when he was refused service at an other restaurant.

Larochelle said he is surprised that for the second time in ten years, he has had to take a case all the way to the Tribunal.

"It's unfortunate I had to get to this point to make someone understand that [people with disabilities] have rights," said Larochelle. "We cannot be seen as people who cause problems in public places."

La Caverne Grecque has 30 days to appeal the decision.