MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - A woman with a disability says she was discriminated against at a Mishawaka 7-Eleven at Main Street and Catalpa Drive on Wednesday. She was kicked out because of her service dog, and she caught the ordeal on camera.
Candace Mace believes the owner, John, broke the law when he refused to help her and didn’t believe she had a disability. He also didn’t believe her dog was a legitimate service animal.
“She’s not eliminating on the floor, making loud noise or anything like that, then there’s no reason for you to deny service to me,” Mace said
Mace has epilepsy and uses her service dog, Clea, to help with her disability.
She lives near the Mishawaka 7-Eleven where she was given the boot and had been there many times. During her last visit on Wednesday, she was told that service dogs are not welcome.
"I was having a bad day in general because I wasn’t feeling well. So, I had two appointments, I had an appointment with the dentist and the neurologist, so I had a $5 bill and I needed to break it," Mace explained.
Her goal was breaking the $5 and grabbing a drink, making change to catch the bus. Instead, she caught the store owner on camera telling her she wasn’t allowed in the store and that she needed to leave.
“I was humiliated, especially because he was asking people, ‘She looks fine to me. She says she has epilepsy; does she look like she has a disability to you?’" Mace recalled. "And I’m like, are you serious?”
A local disability advocate pulled these points from the Americans with Disabilities Act website regarding service dogs:
- It doesn't need a vest
- It can be self-trained
- It can only be denied access to a facility for incontinence and acting out of the handler's control, or if it’s a sterile environment, which 7-Eleven is not considered.
Otherwise, the service dog and owner must be allowed in a facility wherever other customers are allowed to go.
The biggest concern for Mace was that the 7-Eleven owner didn't believe she was disabled.
"He even said, 'She's standing up straight, she looks fine to me.' What does standing up straight have to do with anything?” Mace said.
She hopes from this, others can learn a lesson.
"Don't assume because they're not in a wheelchair or there's not something visibly wrong with them that they bought the vest online and it’s fake," she said.
16 News Now went inside the 7-Eleven earlier looking for the owner, but we were told he was not available Thursday for comment.