service dog policy
STEERS GUIDE DOG POLICY
Guide Dogs and Service Dogs are permitted in all Steers restaurants.
We understand that a working dog is a dog that has been trained to assist its owner who has a disability and that a person who is disabled depends on a working dog that has been trained in all environments.
The aim of this policy is to ensure consistency amongst our team members who work for Steers and to create a welcoming atmosphere in all our restaurants for persons with disabilities and their service dogs.
Underlying principleThe Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2004 (PEPUDA) prohibits unfair discrimination of any person on the grounds of a person's disability. Section 9 of PEPUDA prohibits the unfair discrimination against any person on the grounds of disability including failing to eliminate obstacles that unfairly limit or restrict persons with disabilities from enjoying equal opportunities or failing to take steps to reasonably accommodate the needs of such a person.
In the recent judgement of South African Guide Dogs Association for the Blind (The Minister of Home Affairs and another case number 16/2018, dated 29 March 2019 [unreported]), the Equality Court held that the choice of a visually impaired person to have a guide dog assist them is choice worthy of protection and this choice cannot be removed by another person except for a justifiable cause. The judgement of the Equality Court also ruled that denial of access of a guide dog without justifiable cause amounts to unfair discrimination on the grounds of disability in contravention of PEPUDA.
In addition, article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities (UNCRPD), ratified by the Republic of South Africa, urges States Parties to take appropriate measures to ensure persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communication technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. State Parties are obliged to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers.
The General Comment 2014 no. 2 of the UNCRPD reiterates that as long as goods, products and services are open or provided to the public, they must remain accessible to all, regardless of whether they are owned and/or provided by a public authority or a private enterprise.
Steers recognises the rights of persons with disabilities and the authority of PEPUDA as the national legislation mandated by section 9(4) of the Constitution. All our restaurant staff have been trained on the importance of customer service, including that persons with disabilities and their service dogs must never be refused access to any of our restaurants.
Actions to be taken in our restaurants:
- Acknowledge the customer with a service dog the same way you would any and all customers.
- Offer the customer a table. NOTE: DO NOT place a customer with a service animal in a special section, or isolate them from other customers.
- The restaurant is not required to provide any special accommodations for the animal, and they are not required to provide the animal with food. Please note that service dog owners are trained with their dogs and the dog will usually sit under the table, without causing other customers any discomfort.
- The restaurant has the right to refuse the disabled customer and service animal from any areas that customers are generally restricted from entering.
What is Required of the Disabled Person with a Service Dog
- Service animals are often seen with special collars and harnesses.
- The service dog must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless such devices would either interfere with the work of the animal, or the person's disability prevents them from being able to use such a device. If these devices cannot be used for whatever reason then the person must keep the animal in control through voice, signal, or any other effective controls.
- The service dog must be kept under the control of the disabled person at all times.