Restaurant slapped with $12,000 fine after refusing to accommodate man with OCD

After the ownership change, a server brought his water with a lemon slice and a straw, even though the man requested both be left off.
After the ownership change, a server brought his water with a lemon slice and a straw, even though the man requested both be left off. (Photo: iStock)

Do restaurants have the duty to accommodate people suffering from mental disorders?

In the following case, a restaurant was found to have failed to accommodate man though they had accommodated him in the past.

The man in question has post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and germaphobia. He enjoys going to restaurants but due to his disorders he requires specific accommodations as to how his food is prepared and served.

Prior to September 2013, this hadn’t been a problem at the restaurant he attended once a week, but then something happened that would change that: the restaurant changed ownership.

The first few visits after the ownership change didn’t present a problem but by November 2013, the restaurant stopped accommodating him. For example, the server now brought his water with a lemon slice and a straw, even though the man repeatedly requested that both be left off but the server told him that this was company policy.

Everything came to a head in December 2013, when the man and his wife came to the restaurant, were denied their usual table, and had to wait a long time to get seated as well as for their food. The man asked to see the manager.

Apparently, the new manager showed up and was belligerent; as the man claims he was told that he was “high-maintenance,” and “now I know why the police shoot crazy people like you.”

The manager also told him he didn’t have to accommodate him because he was the manager and then then threw the man out of the restaurant and told him not to come back, not even allowing him to pay for his meal.

After this incident, the man filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

The tribunal found that the man had indeed been discriminated against by the manager’s refusal to accommodate and due to the vile comments made, especially considered the restaurant had little issue accommodating him before.

The tribunal ordered that the restaurant pay him $12,000 in compensation for injuries to his dignity, feelings and self-respect.

The irony is that the restaurant who had given the man so much trouble no longer exists as it went into bankruptcy.

That goes to show the old adage of “the customer is always right” still applies.

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