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War Hero Sues KFC

They REFUSED to Serve Me

'Cause of My Service Dog

8/21/2013 11:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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An American war hero is suing the company behind Kentucky Fried Chicken ... claiming KFC  employees refused to serve him ... all because he arrived to the fast food joint with his registered service dog, this according to a new lawsuit obtained by TMZ.

The man behind the lawsuit is Charles Hernandez -- who describes himself as a "highly-decorated  and combat-disabled veteran of the Iraq war and a distinguished educator in the New York City school system."

There's more ... he was also New York City Council's Veteran of the Year in 2011 ... and was also "one of the first soldiers to arrive at the World Trade Center site" on September 11, 2001.

So, you'd think the guy would have no problems getting some fried chicken at his leisure, right?

Wrong, according to his new lawsuit filed in NYC.

Hernandez claims he walked into a KFC in NY back in February, along with his registered service dog Valor ... who accompanies Hernandez to soothe his symptoms of post-traumatic stress caused by years in combat.

But instead of being greeted with a smile and some chicken, Hernandez claims a KFC employee told him, "papi, there are no dogs allowed."

Hernandez says he explained that he had the proper permits to have the dog accompany him inside restaurants -- to which the employee replied, "ok, but you still cannot have the dog in the store."

Eventually, Hernandez left ... sans chicken ... and is now firing back with the lawsuit -- demanding at least $1,000,000 for his troubles.

God bless America.

An employee at the KFC restaurant where the incident took place tells us ... when Hernandez arrived with the dog, the animal was not wearing the proper service dog vest and identification.

However, in his lawsuit, Hernandez states -- "Valor wears a bright green vest and tags that clearly indicate that he is not a pet, but rather a highly trained service dog."

Sgt. Hernandez called into TMZ Live today to talk about the suit.

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263 COMMENTS

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31.

Antalicus    

Sounds like he needs another dog that soothe his symptoms of greed.

No offense to veterans but this guy should just be asking for an apology at most.

365 days ago
32.

Jim    

Go back to comment #1, SARA JO CAMEL TOE, and click on the FLAG button, to have this SICK person removed from the comment section. Thank you.

365 days ago
33.

Toilethead    

The dog would have gotten sick if had eaten any of that crap anyway.

365 days ago
34.

Sonja    

I feel for the guy, but $1,000,000 ? For what damages exactly? Now a guy is probably out a job for simply not being properly trained regarding the laws on service animals? I also agree with the comments about the service vests. There should be one, easily recognized, official service vest for service animals and they should all be licensed as such so that people can show others that their dog is indeed licensed to be in the area despite the laws and regulations pertaining to simple pets. I think at the most KFC should be fined for not following the laws and they should appologize to the guy, make sure employees are trained on the service animal laws and maybe offer the guy some coupons for a years worth of free chicken or something.. but suing for a $1,000,000 ... sorry that's just foolish considering no real harm came to anyone involved.

365 days ago
35.

mary    

this was one store, the kfc i go to, everyone is great and go out of their way to serve and help you. the employee was wrong but doesnt reflect the whole chain. iam sorry he was treated like this after all he has been thru for our country. i love kfc chicken and have never been treated badly by any of their stores.

365 days ago
36.

Justsay Nohan    

I appreciate everything veterans have done for our country but I don't believe that "emotional comfort/aid" dogs should be treated the same as service dogs that actually DO something and are required for day-to-day activities. Using an animal as a living surrogate for medication should NOT enable you to take it wherever you please. ANYONE can claim they need their beloved pets for "emotional support" and apply for a service license but there have to be limits. Cats can provide "comfort" as well...or birds...or snakes...or gerbils. Where do you draw the line? Service animals should only be exempt if they provide aid to someone with a PHYSICAL debilitation. Did you know that businesses aren't even allowed to ask the nature of the service dog only that it is one? All anyone has to do is lie and they can take their animals anywhere they please. It's ridiculous.

365 days ago
37.

Jim    

There are Federal, as well as State laws that govern service dogs. If Mr. Hernandez was following those laws, then he deserves a settlement, and KFC may want to re-train their hired help that rarely does more than get an order wrong, or be rude to the customers that are standing in line for 10+ minutes, while they all congregate around each other gossiping. KFC must be one of the most poorly managed companies I have seen of late, and WAY overpriced.

365 days ago
38.

vicksux    

Should have gone to Chick Filet....I have seen service dogs in their restaurants. I would much rather be around a dog than a woman exposing her breast feeding her child...I don't care how natural it is, not something I want to see when I am eating.

365 days ago
39.

LaLa    

What the heck is wrong with you people? War Vet or not he brought a dog into a food establishment. Y'all all know dang on well that most of y'all are picky about your food. Let there be just one dog hair in your mash potatoes and all hell will break loose. You'd try to have the restaurant condemned. He knew better as a trained "Vet". He's trying to have KFC compensate for what the government has been lacking him. Toss this suit.

365 days ago
40.

ChinLee3    

KFC must know the rules: Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. The definition was modified in 2010 due to the fact that so many people are claiming there pets as a service dog. http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

365 days ago
41.

Justsay Nohan    

$1M?? Please. For what? Embarassment? Inconvenience? I'm not saying he doesn't deserve *something* but $1000 should more than cover it. People toss around "pain and suffering" and "punitive" in lawsuits like they're buzzwords for huge jackpots. Unless you're traumatized for life or suffer a debilitating injury, you don't deserve anything even remotely close to a million dollars unless the actions are so terrible, unthinkable, horrendous, and intentional that the judge/jury wants to make an example of someone.

365 days ago
42.

DWeaver    

It looks like our "hero" is looking for a payday first and foremost. I know it sounds horribly judgmental of me to say that. I've been a guide dog handler for 17 years, and this is the sort of thing we come up against pretty frequently.

IMO, it's most important to EDUCATE people, not try to take them to court and get money. That is NOT the way to go.

The first thing I do is explain the law to employees and ask for management. Then I ask them to call the police and settle it since denying a person with a service animal service is considered a misdemeanor. Usually that takes care of the problem for that time, but I'm not done yet.

Still, after returning home, I contact the corporation involved. 99.9% of the time, the corporations are very receptive. It's usually a training issue, and they address it. They might send free stuff too, but that's not the reason to contact them.

If it seems they're not receptive or if it's a repeat problem, I contact an advocacy group and the US Department of Justice. From there, a mediation process starts. Only if all else fails, you sue. It might take longer, but it makes it better for future service animal handlers.

365 days ago
43.

dropped    

having a sister in law with a service dog and witness to this myself many many times...its not "just" a kfc issue.

many businesses do this.

it can be a frustrating day out when going in to a new restaurant means dirty looks from patrons and arguments with employees who do not have the proper training to understand the laws regarding service aids.

365 days ago
44.

MC    

This veteran has a legitimate complaint under federal law of the ADA. When a person using a service dog enters an establishment, the service staff cannot ask to see papers or medical reasons. All they can ask is what service the dog provides. Not allowing the dog in is an ADA violation under Title III.
Servers should have been trained better.

365 days ago
45.

Livvie    

KFC is so gross. Why do people keep eating there?

365 days ago
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