Blind woman says store owner discriminated against her
A Portland woman says a store owner discriminated against her when he told her she couldn't have her guide dog, Jet, at his business.
"I was really upset," Katie Tueber said. "He doesn't know me. He doesn't know what I go through every day."
Tueber has had the disease, Achromatopsia, since birth and it's made her legally blind. She can see a little but has to focus on one thing at a time. She can't see color and struggles with light, depth perception and peripheral vision.
"(My guide dog) helps me make sure I don't walk into things or trip over curbs," she said. "We're always together."
Tueber said when she brought her dog, Jet, into Giants NY Pizza and Convenience on Southeast 82nd and Holgate on Saturday, the owner immediately began questioning her.
"He goes, 'I don't care if you're legally blind, you can't have a guide dog in here,' and I said, 'Really?' Then he starts asking all these personal questions like, 'Can you see me?'"
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), personal questions are illegal. The law only allows businesses to ask the following:
1) Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
2) What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
While Tueber carries around guide dog certification cards, there's no law in Oregon requiring her to have that paperwork, and under the federal law, businesses may not ask for it.
The Portland store owner admits he asked for guide dog credentials, although he didn't realize it's illegal.
"I asked her, 'So what's it going to be? You going to show me credentials or what's it' going to be?'" said Eugen Schiriac, who owns Giants NY Pizza and Convenience. "She was walking in front of the dog, pointing out to the hookah sticks. 'Let me show you what I seen here.'"
Schiriac said Tueber acted inappropriately when he asked her about the dog.
"She just snapped and used bad language," he said. "I just do not tolerate that in my store."
"I apologize for the foul language, but I was just so shocked," Tueber said. "I just want to make this known so this doesn't happen to anybody else."
Schiriac told KATU he would apologize to her if she brings in the guide dog certification cards, even though the law doesn't require that paperwork.
Tueber has the option to report the store to state and federal agencies. Click here to learn more about that reporting process. It can take a year for the agencies to respond but has helped businesses better understand and follow the law.