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Restaurant breaches equality laws and bans access to blind woman and guide dog

Picture of black labrador guide dog Zena dog-serious
© Zena The Guide Dog – Facebook

A woman who must rely on a guide dog to get about says her treatment by family-run Boxmoor Steakhouse was humiliating and “against the law”. Here come the facts.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 16/09/2020, 19:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:25

Jolene Clark, 29, told The Sun that her being prevented from dining at the Hemel Hempstead restaurant because she was accompanied by her Labrador guide dog Zena was demoralising.

Ms Clark arrived at the Steakhouse with Zena and members of her family. But her access was denied by the duty manager.

Equality Act

Under the UK’s Equality Act – a law much-admired around the world – guide dog and other assistance dog owners have the right to "enter most services, premises and vehicles with their dog".

Clark was not just refused access, but was treated poorly by staff, leaving her and her family feeling humiliated and upset.

Going places? Here’s how to travel with a dog.

Members of staff at the Boxmoor also repeatedly referred to Zena as a “pet”. According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission a guide dog is an auxiliary aid, and should not be mistaken for a pet.

£5000 fine

Clark told The Sun she then mentioned to staff that she may rightfully call the police to sort out the problem. Such an intervention could have landed the pub owners with a court case and a £5000 fine.


Happy 6th birthday Zena 🦮🐾

Posted by Zena The Guide Dog on Wednesday, May 13, 2020

At this point the manager told Clark the dog could not be admitted in case other customers were allergic to its fur. Such a reason is also contrary to the Equality Act.

In mitigation the restaurant claimed in a later Facebook post that they were fully-booked at the time.

Watch also: Labrador dog squeezed in a train, his blind owner is left speechless!