Special to The News Patrick Stark, 33, and his service dog, Copenhagen. Stark says they were kicked out of a Millville Wawa on June 13.
TRENTON — The Division on Civil Rights announced that a settlement was reached between Wawa, a chain of convenience stores, and a Millville man who alleged he was kicked out of a store over his service dog.
Patrick Stark, a 33-year-old Millville resident, was paid $12,500 in the settlement, representing a compromise of his claim for damages.
According to the settlement agreement, Wawa also agreed to, “seriously consider making a charitable donation to a service organization dedicated to providing service animals for individuals with disabilities.”
Wawa promised in the agreement to properly train its employees about the store’s policy involving service animals and proper signage will be posted stating service animals are welcomed into the store.
The store must provide these training materials and policies to the Division of Civil Rights and the two must come to an agreement over the size and wording of the sign.
“This is an important resolution of this matter,” said Craig T. Sashihara, director of the Division of Civil Rights, in a release. “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.”
According to Stark, the store’s assistant manager confronted him over the dog and, even after proper paperwork was shown, the manager called the police on Stark.
In a Millville Police report concerning the incident, the manager approached Stark about the dog and mentioned that the dog was wearing a standard dog leash instead of the proper service vest.
“I just don’t want to be hassled when I’m getting a sandwich,” Stark said previously about the incident.
Stark stated previously that this was the fifth incident he was involved in at a Wawa; however, none of those situations ever became as extreme as this one.
Stark requires his service dog because of recurrent seizures. The seizures started three years ago after being mugged in Seattle.
“He’s my lifeline,” Stark said previously about his service dog. “without him I can’t function. without him I can’t go anywhere and have an independent life.”
The settlement agreement also states that Stark and Wawa entered into a separate, confidential settlement.
The Division of Civil Rights was not involved with this separate agreement.
Wawa makes no admission of wrongdoing in the settlement.