August 8, 2012
Office of The Attorney General
Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General
Division on Civil Rights
- Craig T. Sashihara, Director
|TRENTON – The Division on Civil Rights announced today that WaWa, Inc. has paid a Cumberland County man more than $12,000 to resolve allegations the man was unlawfully denied service at a company convenience store while accompanied by his service dog.
Under terms of an agreement finalized last month, WaWa paid Millville resident Patrick Stark $12,500 to settle his Complaint related to an incident that occurred at a WaWa store in Millville on June 13 of this year. On that date, Stark entered the WaWa accompanied by his service dog, Copenhagen, to purchase a sandwich and allegedly was told he would not be served unless he took the dog outside. When Stark balked and attempted to explain that the dog was permitted by law, a store manager allegedly told him he must leave.
Under the settlement agreement, WaWa not only has paid Stark, but has agreed to post signs in its New Jersey stores advising that service dogs are welcome. The company has also agreed to train its company employees in New Jersey regarding laws pertaining to service animals, as well as company policy welcoming them. Under the settlement, WaWa makes no admission of wrongdoing. Stark has told Division investigators he requires a service dog because he experiences periodic seizures and that the dog is trained to assist him.
“This is an important resolution of this matter,” said Division Director Craig T. Sashihara. “The allegations in this case were troubling. However, we credit WaWa for its responsiveness, and for being ready to educate store employees about the rights of people who employ service animals.”
Deputy Attorney General James Michael, assigned to the Division of Law’s Civil Rights Section, and Division on Civil Rights Investigator Mark McNierney handled the WaWa matter on behalf of the State.