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Another hearing in case of restaurant barring guide dog

The Regional Court in Warsaw held a hearing in the case that involves visually impaired persons who were denied access to a Warsaw restaurant. The pair was not let in because they were accompanied by guide dogs. The claimants demand an apology in the press and the payment of a charitable contribution of PLN 50,000. So far, the parties have been unable to reach a settlement.

In 2013, Dorota Ziental-Sobkowicz and Sebastian Grzywacz went to a restaurant in Warsaw. The staff told them their dogs were not allowed inside and proposed a table on the establishment’s patio. However, weather conditions deteriorated rapidly on that day in Warsaw, and the claimants found themselves exposed to torrential rain and a sudden drop in air temperature. Despite having told the staff about their right to move freely with their service dogs and having produced the animals’ ID cards, the customers were told to leave the premises. In April 2015 they brought a court action against the restaurant.

The lawsuit stated that the restaurant had discriminated against the claimants on the ground of their disability. The defendant actions were also said to have violated personal interests of the claimants: their dignity, the right to make decisions in their personal lives, the freedom of movement and the freedom of choice of their place of stay.

Pursuant to article 20a of the Act on Occupational and Social Rehabilitation and Employment of People with Disabilities, a person accompanied by a guide dog has the right of access to all public utility facilities, including restaurants and means of transport.

During the hearing, the court heard five witnesses called by the claimants. The next court date was set on 8 January 2016.

Two advocates of Wolf Theiss P. Daszkowski sp. k., Mr Aleksander Woźnicki and Mr Rafał Karbowniczek, represent the claimants pro bono, as a courtesy to the HFHR.

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