Blind Manchester student ‘told his guide dog cannot enter a Burger King’
‘Being denied access to basic needs in 2021 is disgusting and outrageous’
A PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University who has dealt with sight loss from birth has said he and his guide dog were denied access to Burger King at Piccadilly Gardens.
Riley Yeomans, 24, is registered blind and so receives assistance from his golden retriever guide dog Yashka who has supported him for the last five years.
Despite Yaskha being a necessary support for him, Riley told The Manchester Tab he was refused entry to the restaurant by security as a result of the dog.
The incident occurred late afternoon on Sunday the 20th June when Riley, Yashka and his partner decided to travel to the Burger King restaurant for something to eat.
Riley said: “As we approached the restaurant there was lots of mess on the floor, and as my partner was fully sighted she was trying to guide me around it whilst walking to the automatic doors.
“As we stepped foot into the restaurant, a security guard stepped forward and announced that we couldn’t bring ‘it’ into the restaurant.
“The security guard was wearing what looked like a body camera, and insinuated that no dogs were allowed to the restaurant.”
A Burger King spokesperson told The Manchester Tab: “An initial investigation has shown that our security staff misidentified the guide dog on entry. The mistake was quickly realised, and the guests were welcomed into the premises with the guide dog.”
Riley says, depsite explaining Yashka was a guide dog and had the legal right to be in the building as per the Equalities Act 2010, the security guard allegedly refused to acknowledge this and instead suggested Riley’s fully sighted partner “should guide them in”.
Despite further pleas from Riley to the security guard about how Yashka was there for support and guidance, they say nothing was resolved and the security guard proceeded to inform the Burger King manager.
After further explanations from Riley over his legal rights, he says it was only when he wanted to contact the police for advice that the restaurant manager decided to ask him what he wanted to eat.
Riley, who also suffers from depression and anxiety, told The Manchester Tab he became very ‘upset’ and ‘distressed’ at the ordeal along with his partner.
Riley said: “Whilst standing to the side my partner made a couple of phone calls and I bent to the floor crying.
“We were approached by a member of staff who tried to get my partners attention, however as she was on the phone she was unable to communicate however the staff made no attempt to talk to me personally.
“After a few minutes, my partner took my hand and helped me to stand, as she could visually see that I was in a lot of stress and on the verge of a panic attack.
“Being denied access to basic needs in 2021 is disgusting and outrageous.”
Riley, who describes Yashka as his best friend, informed Guide Dogs of the situation immediately to make them aware.
Riley said: “The entire incident was and is very upsetting. I feel utterly discriminated against to the point that I feel as though I am a second class citizen in the UK.
“I have been refused entry to different places in the past because of my guide dog but these have all been resolved and the staff have apologised.
“So far, I have not heard anything back from Burger King.”
Riley credits Yashka with being able to live a normal day-to-day life saying: “She has given me so much independence and a lease of life that has allowed me to access a world that is difficult to live in for someone who has a visual impairment.
“Our partnership is simply fantastic.”
Riley says the incident has had ‘a massive impact’ on him over what may happen in the future as he says that it has deterred him from going out anywhere, especially on his own.
Riley added: “I hope that, although this has been an awful incident which has had a massive impact on me personally, I wanted to raise awareness of discrimination and access rights of guide dogs and other assistance dogs.
“More knowledge and education is clearly needed, it’s ironic since Burger King did a collaboration with Guide Dogs in 2018.”
A Burger King spokesperson said:
“Burger King UK firmly believes in the fair treatment of people and we’re committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our customers and employees. We are aware of an incident that took place at our Manchester Piccadilly restaurant.
An initial investigation has shown that our security staff misidentified the guide dog on entry. The mistake was quickly realised, and the guests were welcomed into the premises with the guide dog. We are continuing to liaise with the restaurant about the matter, however would like to reiterate and reassure our customers that use of guide dogs is permitted across all of our UK restaurants.”
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