As I recounted on Tuesday, Mickey and I faced our first incident of discrimination. Since I suspect that, unfortunately, this will be a recurring experience, I’m offering you, my readers, this useful template if you ever want to send an email to a company that you feel has discriminated against you unfairly. Note: this particular template is specific to New York City; if you live in another city or state feel free to update the sections to your own city/state’s mandates.
To Whom It May Concern,
I have been a long time customer of INSERT STORE NAME since INSERT TIME HERE, but I am writing to report an extremely disappointing incident that occurred when I visited your store yesterday, 3/27/18.
(Start with a paragraph describing your relationship to the business and referring to the date of the alleged discrimination.)
I’ve recently obtained a medical alert service dog. When I entered your store with my dog, I was immediately chased down by an employee who told me no dogs were allowed in the store. I informed her that mine was a service dog, but she insisted that “it didn’t matter” and “store policy” was that no dogs at all were allowed.
(Factually recount what happened. Try not to call them Poo Poo Butts or Doo Doo Heads; it will threaten your credibility.)
As I informed your employee, store policy does not supersede federal and state law, which mandates that service dogs are permitted to accompany their handlers in all stores, restaurants, and public spaces.
(Explain that you informed the individual of your rights and repeat what those rights are)
You can reference the federal law regarding service animals here:
You can reference the state law regarding service animals here:
You can reference the City of New York’s mandate on service animals here:
I invite you in particular to refer to this line from the Department of Justice’s regulations:
- Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
(Useful if it was a restaurant or food store)
Although I repeatedly informed your employee of my rights, she insisted that “it wasn’t about the law” and that your store’s policy was to not allow dogs. This exchange happened in front of other shoppers and employees, and was humiliating for me as well as extremely discouraging. After a good deal of embarrassing back and forth, she finally told me I was allowed to keep him in the store but demanded that I keep him away from the buffet.
Had your employee discreetly requested that I keep a close eye on my dog around the buffet from the beginning, I would have been happy to inform her that my service dog has had thousands of hours of public access training and is impeccably behaved, posing no risk to your buffet. Instead, she exposed me to a painful public exchange where I was forced to defend my legal right to shop in your store.
Later, a second employee (possibly a manager) approached me to say that my dog was “allowed” but requested I keep him away from the buffet. Again, I was happy to inform him that my professionally trained dog was going to be no issue. Had that been the only encounter I had, that would have been completely appropriate.
(Return to the description of the incident; emphasize your reasonableness. Try not to write that “you wanted to poop on their faces because they were being such jerks.” It will also damage your credibility.)
However, my exchange with the first employee was demeaning and frustrating. I felt extremely unwelcome in your store, and although I will not be lodging a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, I encourage you to educate your employees about the rights of disabled customers, or you make yourself vulnerable to legal action.
(Always bring up legal action – you could sue their asses! Name drop the NYC Commission on Human Rights if you can, too. Because you’ve got friends in high places.)
A Very Pissed Blogger.
(Except make it your name.)