Complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is mandatory for every restaurant and foodservice establishment in the United States. The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability. The resources and links below will set you up for success.

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 — the ADA is an “equal opportunity” law for people with disabilities.

To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.

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ADA Service/Emotional Support/Therapy Animal FAQs

Many people with disabilities use a service animal in order to fully participate in everyday life. The ADA requires restaurants to make “reasonable modifications” in their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to accommodate people with disabilities. The service animal rules fall under this general principle. Accordingly, establishments that have a “no pets” policy generally must modify the policy to allow service animals into their facilities.

What can I ask my customers about service animals?
There are only two questions that can be asked of a person about their service animal:

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
  2. If the answer to #1 is yes, then you can ask what work or task the animal is trained to perform.

Note: Do not ask any questions about the person’s disability.

Can I ask a guest to leave the premises if their service animal is not under control?
Yes.

What types of animals qualify as service animals under the ADA?
Dogs and miniature horses are the only animals that qualify.

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