In 2015, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association found that 75% of assistance dog owners had been refused access to a service at some point because they had an assistance dog with them. A service includes access to a restaurant, shop or taxi.
Recently, it has been reported in the news that a journalist successfully pursued a claim of discrimination in the County Court after he was refused access to a taxi cab on the basis that the driver was allegedly allergic to dogs.
It is reported that the taxi driver could not provide evidence of their allergy and instead informed the journalist that he could ‘check with his GP’. It is understood that the taxi driver then went on to allege that the journalist was putting his health in danger as a result of being in close proximity to the dog.
Under Sections 168 – 171 of the Equality Act 2010, taxi or private hire vehicle drivers must carry an assistance dog unless they can provide evidence of an exemption certificate issued by a licensing authority. The licensing authority must be satisfied that issuing an exception certificate is appropriate based upon medical evidence that confirms why the driver cannot be in close proximity to dogs.
Taxis and/or private hire vehicles must:
- Carry the dog and allow it to remain with that person,
- Not make any additional charge for doing so, and
- Not refuse a booking or refuse to carry out a booking if the booking has been made by a person who wishes to be accompanied by an assistance dog
Offences of this nature fall under both criminal and civil jurisdictions. If you believe that you have been discriminated against because you have been refused access to a service due to owning an assistance dog, our discrimination team can potentially assist with pursuing a civil claim for damages and injunctive relief. Contact our specialist discrimination team on 01616 966 229.