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File image of a guide dog. Alamy Stock Photo
Workplace Relations Commission

Dealz ordered to pay €7,000 to a blind Paralympian whose guide dog was refused entry

Ms Lattimore was found to have been discriminated against at the Dealz outlet at the Ilac Centre in Dublin.

LOW COST RETAILER, Dealz has been ordered to pay out €7,000 compensation to a blind Paralympian who was left “humiliated and embarrassed” after a Dealz security guard told her ‘Excuse me. That dog is not allowed in here’ when out shopping with guide dog, Pilot.

In her ruling, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator, Penelope McGrath has ordered Dealz Ltd to pay Nadine Lattimore €7,000 compensation after Ms McGrath found that Ms Lattimore was discriminated against by Dealz Ltd under the Equal Status Act on June 30th 2023.

In her findings, Ms McGrath found that Ms Lattimore was discriminated against at the Dealz outlet at the Ilac Centre in Dublin in that she was treated less favourably than a person with no visual impairment would have been treated.

Ms McGrath stated that Ms Lattimore – who is registered as blind – “has not willingly returned to this shop where her disability was broadcasted, and her humiliation was complete”.

Ms McGrath stated that she appreciated “that management swept in to ameliorate the situation as quickly as they could and in her evidence the Complainant very fairly acknowledged that fact”.

On the Friday morning of June 30th 2023 at around 9.30, Ms Lattimore went into the Dealz retail shop in Dublin city centre.

Ms Lattimore had just dropped her son off to school and was going in to the shop to purchase some helium balloons for an event later in the day.

Ms Lattimore was very familiar with the shop and knows some of the staff who have always been helpful in the past.

Ms Lattimore was accompanied by her guide dog named Pilot who, she said, provides safety, security and confidence in her day-to-day mobility.

Ms Lattimore described how Pilot’s presence enhances and liberates her daily navigation.

Ms Lattimore went on to explain that her achievements include competing in the track and field events for Ireland as a Paralympian in London 2012.

In evidence at the WRC hearing, Ms Lattimore stated that as she was carefully making her way to the register to look for assistance, she became aware of voices or a commotion behind her which she did not immediately identify as having anything to do with her.

It was when somebody, a person she now knows to be a security guard, said something along the lines of …‘Excuse me. That dog is not allowed in here’.. that she realised that she was being addressed and that Pilot’s presence in the establishment was causing consternation.

Ms Lattimore explained that in that moment “she felt humiliated and embarrassed and somewhat vulnerable”.

She asked that a Manager be brought over.

Ms Lattimore stated that the Manager who came out immediately confirmed that the dog was welcome in the shop and a mistake had been made.

The Manager said that this should never have happened. An explanation concerning the rotation of security guards was provided.

Under cross examination, Ms Lattimore confirmed that she acknowledged and accepted that an apology had been made.

She said that ultimately even the Security Guard had offered an apology.

Ms Lattimore stated that her concern, however, was that this situation had arisen at all.

She said that as a person with a disability, she feels she should not be put into a position of having to identify her disability or explain it.

She stated that in her case, there is no ambiguity and this is evidenced by the presence of a guide dog with all the associated paraphernalia.

Ms McGrath stated that Ms Lattimore “painted a vivid image of how difficult standing her ground was”.

She stated that she had no sense of how many people were watching this interaction which took place in a public place.

She was, she said, acutely aware of the three men directly in the circle that had now gathered, the Manager and two Security Guards.

She said that the whole situation was difficult.

As part of her order, Ms McGrath has directed that Dealz’s staff members are trained on a repeat basis on the provisions of the Equal Status Act (ESA) and the duties of service providers.

In addition, Ms McGrath has directed that Dealz Ltd demonstrate its continued commitment and compliance with the ESA by displaying “Guide Dogs & Assistance Dogs Welcome” signage at their entrance.