Our firm helps a disabled veteran with a service dog

Curtis Frye III, a disabled veteran with a service dog, was kicked out of a Verizon store in Florence, South Carolina because the manager would not allow his service dog in the store. Our firm represented Mr. Frye without a fee. Verizon Wireless agreed to pay $15,000 to our client.

Mr. Frye is a disabled Army veteran who uses a trained service dog to help with his PTSD. He served in the army for twenty years, including serving in Iraq and Kosovo. Last January, Mr. Frye was traveling through Florence, South Carolina. His iPhone was not working properly. He was told to go to a Verizon store to get a new SIM card.

Mr. Frye went to the store. He brought along his dog Nick, who is trained to assist people with PTSD. Nick was wearing his vest that shows he was a working service dog. Mr. Frye saw a sign on the front of the store stating, “service dogs welcome.” He expected that there would be no problem bringing Nick into the store. Additionally, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against service dogs in public accommodations.

The store was busy. Mr. Frye was approached by a Verizon store greeter who took his name and asked him to wait until his name was called. Mr. Frye found a spot to wait with Nick in front of him. After waiting a few minutes, the store manager came up to Mr. Frye and said, “You and your dog have to wait outside. Dogs are not allowed in the store.” Mr. Frye explained this was a service dog. He explained disability laws to the store manager. He told the store manager it was against the law to ask him to wait outside. Mr. Frye noted that the store sign said service dogs were welcome. The manager said “I don’t care what the sign says. You and your dog have to wait outside. Your dog could harm customers with allergies.” They went back and forth for a while. Finally, the manager threatened to call the police. Mr. Frye chose to leave the store rather than face the escalating humiliation and embarrassment and risk possible arrest.

Mr. Frye was overwhelmed and shaken by the experience of being discriminated against. He went back to his hotel and called Verizon. The person he spoke with was sympathetic, but she was unable to convince the store manager to treat Mr. Frye with the respect he deserved. The only compromise the manager would make was for Mr. Frye to come to the store where the manager would hand him the SIM card through the open door. This proposal was degrading. Mr. Frye refused to go back if he would not be permitted to enter the store. Instead of resolving the problem, the manager’s proposal made it worse.

Verizon acknowledged Mr. Frye’s treatment was not company policy and ultimately agreed to compensate Mr. Frye. Our client hopes that this settlement with Verizon Wireless will result in further training on the rights of disabled people, particularly disabled veterans, to bring service dogs to Verizon corporate stores.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend