Michel Larochelle filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal after a waiter told him his service dog must leave the restaurant. The dog helps Larochelle to push his wheelchair up ramps and hills.
In August 2009 Michelle Larochette went with a friend and Larochette's service dog Cici to the Caverne Grecque restaurant in Montreal. The waiter said that Cici could not enter the restaurant but must stay on the sidewalk.
Cici helps Larochette negotiate hills and ramps as he has a manual wheel chair. Larochelle has been using the services of dogs from the MIRA foundation in Montreal since 1992. According to Larochelle the waiter argued that Cici would disturb other clients even though Cici was lying under the table where they were sitting and there were few clients on the terrace. Larochelle threatened to file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission but the waiter still would not serve them while Cici was under the table.
The Quebec Human Rights Commission came into being after amendments to the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. The Commission hears complaints on various issues. As a specialized tribunal, the Human Rights Tribunal has jurisdiction to hear and rule on complaints concerning discrimination and harassment grounded on one of the motives prohibited under the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It can also hear cases concerning the exploitation of elderly people and people with disabilities as well as matters concerning affirmative action programs.
The decision of the Commission took some time but last week the Commission agreed with Larochelle's complaint and ordered that the waiter and restaurant pay him $6,000 in damages. Larochelle said that disabled people cannot be treated as second-class clientele. Larochelle won a similar complaint back in 2005 against another restaurant.
Larochelle is surprised he had been forced to make two complaints over a period of ten years to enforce his rights."It's unfortunate I had to get to this point to make someone understand that [people with disabilities] have rights," "We cannot be seen as people who cause problems in public places."
La Caverne Grecque has 30 days to appeal the decision.