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.The article reports that Tiffany Allen is no longer employed by McDonald's.
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.
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.