Israeli Restaurant to Pay Damages After Refusing to Let Blind Patron Sit Inside With Guide Dog

Manager of Kiryat Bialik restaurant refused to let Gracia Ben Moyal and her sister in. In the end, the sisters had to sit outside, apart from the other diners.

The Krayot (north of Haifa) Magistrate’s Court ordered a restaurant in northern Israel to pay 27,500 shekels ($7,100) in damages to a blind woman for refusing to let her eat inside because of her guide dog.

The complainant, Gracia Ben Moyal, went with her sister to the Dag Hamusht restaurant in Kiryat Bialik three years ago, but the manager refused to let her in because of her dog. In the end, the sisters had to sit outside, apart from the other diners.

Ben Moyal turned to the Justice Ministry’s Commission for Equal Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which filed the suit in her name. The commission worked out a compromise with the manager, who is to pay 7,500 shekels, and the court approved the deal. In addition, the restaurant did not present a defense, and the judge, Daoud Mazen, ordered the business to compensate her 20,000 shekels. The owners of the restaurant refused to respond, announcing that the establishment has since closed.

Attorney Yoed Halbersberg, a member of the commission, said the ruling is an important point along the way in the fight for equality, in that it awards significant damages to a person who was discriminated against solely because of his or her disability.

“It makes a business owner as well as paid managers in the business personally responsible for paying significant financial compensation to any person with disabilities from whom they withhold services,” said Halbersberg. He added that the court decision sends a message to business owners and managers that they have to “remove the barriers to people with disabilities so that Israeli society will be more accessible, accepting and tolerant toward people with disabilities.”