Friday, July 22, 2011

McDonald's Manager Angered by Service Dog // Assaults Mother of Disabled Children

This is pretty sad.  A mother went to McDonald's a couple weeks back with her two autistic children and their service dog.  An off-duty manager of the restaurant then repeatedly confronted the mother about bringing the dog into the restaurant and then ended up assaulting the mother when she and her children left the restaurant:
A McDonald's manager in the Atlanta area is accused of punching a mother after she brought her autistic children and a service dog inside the restaurant, authorities said. Tiffany Denise Allen is charged with simple battery, simple assault and disorderly conduct, according to a Cobb County warrant.

Jennifer Schwenker entered the McDonald's in Marietta with her twins and service dog on July 12. Allen, who was off-duty at the time, became angry that the dog was inside, the warrant states. Police say Allen followed the mother around the restaurant, then punched her in the face in the parking lot.

Surveillance video shows McDonald's employees trying to restrain their co-worker, police wrote in the warrant.
The article reports that Tiffany Allen is no longer employed by McDonald's.

Let's forget about the alleged assault for a second.  This off-duty manager was clearly operating against the Americans with Disabilities Act when she attempted to eject the service dog from her restaurant.  The ADA requires that businesses permit service animals wherever customers are generally allowed.  It doesn't matter if it's a restaurant or a store or a hotel or city bus or whatever.  You can learn more about service animals and the Americans with Disabilities Act here.

I understand that the manager might have wanted to make sure that the dog with that customer and her children was actually a service dog.  But, she really needed to back away and lay off this mother once she realized that it was indeed a service dog.  Instead, she allowed the situation to escalate to the point where she disrupted the store's business, harassed and assaulted a customer, lost her job, and now has a warrant out against her.

If there's a moral out there, I guess it's that you shouldn't physically attack customers (especially when they're tethered to their disabled kids and a dog).  But more importantly, people need to realize that service animals serve more than blind people.  There are service animals that detect seizures or who assist people in wheelchairs or who help calm the mentally ill.  Just because someone's disability isn't automatically obvious to you, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.  In other words, welcome your disabled customers and let their service animals do their jobs.


Anonymous said...

GREAT post! Human behavior never ceases to amaze me, even though it was one of my majors in college. Thanks for spreading light on htis topic Jon.

Jon said...


Anonymous said...

It is really time for the public to educated on all disabilities. And I will hope that McDonald's takes this opportunity to fully enlighten all of their employees. Because their business is much more than selling a few hamburgers. Very good post Jon

Jon said...

Thank you very much for your kind words, Anonymous.

I agree that more and better education is needed. I don't deal with service animals too often at my job, but a few people have them and I've most often run into problems with landlords who either don't want to house the service dogs or who don't want to house that particular service dog (this case was a pit mix). Ultimately, it didn't matter. Rejecting the dog without cause violated federal law and fortunately we were able positively resolve those housing situations.