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Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 10, 2017


Contact: Jane Lerner, Director of Strategic Communications
Office of the County Executive (845) 638-5645

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Rockland County Executive Helps Resolve Discrimination Issue for Visually Impaired Man

NEW CITY, NY – Rockland County Executive Ed Day met with both a visually impaired man who was told that his guide dog could not enter a local restaurant and the owner of the business, who has apologized and promised to better train all employees about the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"We were able to turn this into a teachable moment for many people," the County Executive said. "This incident is an important example of the ways we work to protect the rights of people with disabilities."

The incident started earlier this week when New City resident Milton Koja, a musician who is visually impaired, went to a Subway restaurant on Main Street to order a sandwich.

He was accompanied by his service dog, Nash.

A new employee at the restaurant told Koja – incorrectly – that the dog was not allowed.

Koja contacted the county Office of Human Rights.

Acting Commissioner of Human Rights Myrnia Bass-Hargrove and County Executive Day visited the restaurant along with Koja and Nash.

They informed  employees that service dogs are allowed in all establishments, including restaurants.

Saeed Akhtar, owner of the New City Subway franchise, also met with County Executive Day and apologized for what he said was a misunderstanding.

"Service animals are always welcome in my shops. This was a mistake by a new employee who was not aware of the law," he said.

Akhtar promised to make sure that all of his workers are aware of laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities.

"We were very happy to resolve this situation to everyone's satisfaction so quickly," Day said.

County Executive Day has taken numerous steps to protect the rights of the disabled. He recently worked with students at Dominican College and Nyack College to record a public service message about people with intellectual disabilities. The video can be viewed here or : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfyZIiIkp3Y&feature=youtu.be .

He has also participated with Bridges, a Rockland advocacy group for people with disabilities, in the making of a video showing how difficult it is to navigate certain places like a grocery store using a wheelchair.

(pictured: Acting Commissioner of Human Rights Myrnia Bass-Hargrove, New City resident Milton Koja and County Executive Ed Day with Nash.)