A woman claims she was kicked out of a local fast food restaurant because she had a service dog with her.
It happened at the Church's Chicken on Walton Way, in Augusta, and the customer says she, her young daughter, and her daughter's service dog were denied entry into the restaurant against federal law.
Eva Heisch says her 4-year-old daughter requires a service dog because she has autism. She says they have had the dog for 2 months now... and although they have had problems getting service before, she says this time was the worst.
Heisch says her daughter Sophia wouldn't be able to get out of the house if it wasn't for her service dog. She says they take the dog everywhere they go, but on Tuesday, when they stopped at the Church's Chicken on Walton Way, Heisch says that right was taken away.
"We were immediately confronted when we walked through the door by the manager. She was yelling at us in front of customers saying that the animal was not allowed in the building and that she needed to leave immediately. I explained to her that it was a service animal and she said, I don't care, there are no animals allowed in the building," Heisch says.
But, Marie Young with Walton Options, says Heisch and the service dog should have been allowed in the restaurant. She says federal and state law says that businesses that serve the public can't discriminate against people with disabilities.
"That includes allowing them in with their service animals because that service animal is an accommodation for a person with a disability. It helps them. It would be an accommodation just as a wheel chair is an accommodation," Young says.
So we went to talk with the manager of Church's Chicken to find out why she wouldn't let a service dog inside of the restaurant.
I asked, "We are looking to talk to a manager. Are one of you a manager?"
The manager replied, "no comment."
I asked, "you guys can't comment?"
She replied, "no comment."
I asked, "you can't comment on why you are breaking federal law?"
She said, "we can't comment."
Heisch says the Richmond County Sheriff's Office even showed up to investigate. And, she says she wasn't happy with what deputies had to say.
"They are telling me that they are a private owned business and it is not the responsibility of the police department to make sure that they uphold federal law. It's their prerogative whether they want to allow her to have service here or not." she says.
Because she was turned away, Heisch is filing a complaint with the Department of Justice.
"This was very uncalled for and for her to yell and scream at me in front of my 4-year-old, especially with her situation and her disability, is not appropriate," she says.
We did reach out to the corporate office of Church's Chicken for a comment... but we are still waiting to hear from them.
Meanwhile, Heisch says she will also file a complaint with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
1336 Augusta West Parkway
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