TA eatery may pay after spat over guide dog

NIS 60,000 civil suit filed after blind IDF veteran Mordechai Levy-Talmy is told to sit outside.

Pam Pam restaurant eating 311 (photo credit: Illustrative)
Pam Pam restaurant eating 311
(photo credit: Illustrative)
The Commission of Equal Rights for People with Disabilities filed a NIS 60,000 civil lawsuit on Tuesday against a Tel Aviv restaurant that allegedly refused entry to a blind IDF veteran.
According to the lawsuit, Pam- Pam restaurant in Tel Aviv’s Ibn Gabirol Street would not allow Mordechai Levy-Talmy eat inside because was accompanied by his guide dog.
The lawsuit, filed by lawyer Enas Hajyahia, charges that 55- year-old Levy-Talmy, a blind and disabled IDF veteran, went to eat lunch with his wife at Pam-Pam, but when the couple requested an indoor table, the waitress insisted they sit outside. Levy- Talmy asked to speak to the restaurant manager, who informed him that guide dogs were not allowed to enter the restaurant, and therefore the couple must eat at an outdoor table instead.
The restaurant manager would not change his mind even after Levy-Talmy explained he was obligated by law to allow guide dogs to enter.
The lawsuit cites the Law on Equal Rights for People with Disabilities, which stipulates that is prohibited to discriminate against blind people with guide dogs by refusing them entry to public places.
In addition, the suit notes that the law states explicitly that people with disabilities have a basic right to participate equally and actively in all walks of life, and their special needs must be adequately met to allow them to do so with maximum independence, dignity and privacy.
The law further prohibits any person engaged in providing services to the public from discriminating against a person on the basis of disability, the suit says.
Lawyer Lilach Avroch of the Commission of Equal Rights for People with Disabilities said on Tuesday the lawsuit reflected the “immense importance of prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities when they seek to enjoy public services.”
“Refusing to allow a blind person to enter a restaurant just because he is accompanied by a guide dog is something that seriously harms the very basic rights of people with disabilities,” said Avroch.
Oren Ganor of Bizchut, the Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities, welcomed the lawsuit, saying it was an “important development” for enforcing the law regarding access.
Ganor said if the lawsuit is successful, it will send a “clear message and a warning” to the public that blind people with guide dogs must be allowed to enter public spaces.
“Telling a blind person he cannot enter a restaurant with his guide dog is like telling a sighted person that he cannot enter with his eyes,” he said.