Matthew Gordon, a popular vendor at the Sterling Renaissance Festival known as the “Pickle Man,” alleges he was unjustly terminated due to discrimination against him and his service dog. Gordon, a veteran who suffers from combat PTSD, asserts that his service dog, Faith, aids him in managing his anxiety. This year, according to Gordon, he was barred from the fairgrounds by the festival’s owner, Doug Waterbury, who claimed that dogs weren’t allowed. Despite Gordon attempting to present the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rules that protected his rights, he alleges he was dismissed because of his “attitude.”
The incident has gained significant traction on social media platforms like TikTok, leading Waterbury to post a detailed explanation on Facebook. Waterbury maintains that Gordon was not given permission to be on the property, failed to clean up after his dog, and his “loud and aggressive behavior” intimidated other staff. Waterbury asserts that Gordon’s termination was not due to his service dog but his attitude.
Legal experts suggest that the case could potentially result in a lawsuit or fines. Gordon has already filed claims with the ADA and is consulting with an attorney. He hopes to utilize this situation to raise awareness about service animal laws and spotlight businesses that properly accommodate service dogs and their handlers.
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