Anti-Discrimination NSW

​Women with guide dog refused entry to a taxi

Conciliations: Disability discrimination in service provision

Published: 3 December 2018

A blind woman and her companions made a complaint of disability discrimination after they were refused entry to a taxi. They believed that the refusal was because of the woman’s guide dog. 

The woman said that when she and her companions approached the taxi and tried to get in, they found that the doors were locked. Some other people waiting nearby banged on the taxi on their behalf but the driver still didn’t open the door. 

The woman had only recently started using a guide dog. She said she found the whole incident very upsetting and it reduced her confidence in going out with the dog in future. 

The complaint was made against the driver, the taxi owner and the taxi company. The taxi company responded that they had made a lot of effort to make sure drivers understood their obligations. Training about guide dogs is included in their induction process and they sponsor guide dog puppies. 

There had been a delay before the taxi company found out about the incident, but when they did, they interviewed the driver, who denied the alleged behaviour. They said that there was a limit to what they could do as the driver was not a direct employee of the company.

At conciliation with the taxi company, the representatives said that it was important for them to receive feedback when such incidents occurred, as it helped them explain to new drivers the impact their actions can have. They supplied the woman with details of another number to ring for drivers within their network who provide a special service for people with a disability. 

The company agreed to discuss the incident further with the driver and make absolutely sure he understood the law, and pay $500 compensation to each of the complainants in general damages. This resolved the complaint.

What are my rights to goods and services?

In general, you have the right to apply for and get goods or services in the same way as people who don't have a disability. People must not harass you because of your disability while you are getting goods or services.

For example, people must not refuse you service because you (or your relative, friend, work colleague or associate) have a guide dog (for seeing, hearing or mobility) with you. All guide dogs must be allowed to accompany their owners, even into eating areas.

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