3 Aug 2009

Snubbed blind guest gets compensation and apology

6:48 pm on 3 August 2009

A blind woman has been awarded compensation of $8000 after an accommodation business refused to allow her to stay because of her guide dog.

In February 2007 Laura Eitjes, of Tauranga, booked for two nights at a premises she had previously stayed at. However, she was refused lodging after her first day.

It has taken two-and-a-half years for Ms Eitjes to get an apology from the former owners of the North Island lodgings.

After unsuccessful mediation, the defendants were initially prepared to fight at the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

But in an out-of-court settlement, Ms Eitjes has agreed not to name the guest accommodation, which now has new owners. She also received an unreserved apology.

Under the settlement, the details of the business - whether it was a motel, hotel or bed and breakfast is being kept confidential, as is the former owners' names and the town.

Ms Eitjes told Checkpoint she decided to take a stand on behalf of all guide dog users.

She says her legal battle was never about money, but an attempt to prevent a similar incident from happening to someone else.

The Human Rights Act says it is unlawful to deny someone a product or service on the grounds of their disability.