The Denver Post reports that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission has dismissed a woman’s complaint against Winter Park ski area, which did not allow her service dog to ride a chairlift to the top of the mountain. This case was closely watched by ski resort officials because its potential industry wide consequences.
“The evidence suggests that there is a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason service animals are not permitted on chairlifts: namely, allowing unrestrained animals to ride open chairlifts, which can be suspended over 30 feet from the ground, poses a threat to the service dog, skiers, staff, and rescuers who might have to rescue an animal from a chairlift. The evidence does not suggest that (Grayson) requires such an accommodation.” –excerpt from ruling by Civil Rights Commission
Former U.S. Army captain, CarrieAnn Grayson, filed a formal disability complaint against Winter Park last fall, arguing the resort should allow her service dog, Guinness, to ride a chairlift with her. It was the first complaint of its kind in the history of the ski resort industry.
The director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division, ruled against Grayson, arguing there was zero evidence of adverse treatment or discrimination when the ski area last year denied her service dog access to chairlifts for safety reasons.
“As ski resort operators, we have always been confident in our position that untrained animals create serious safety concerns for their owners, our lift operators, ski patrollers, and other guests. At the same time, we are constantly re-evaluating operations and procedures —especially with enhancing safety — and unique legal challenges like this give us a fresh opportunity to reconsider our practices to see what we can do better and how to be more accommodating.” -Dave Byrd director of risk and regulatory affairs for the National Ski Areas Association