WINNIPEG—A 52-year-old woman from Texas says she is fighting her dismissal from her job as a Canadian truck driver over what she says is her right to have her service dog with her.
Lucinda Brummitt says she is a United States army veteran and a survivor of military sexual trauma, and needs to travel with a chocolate lab-mix named Big because of post-traumatic stress disorder.
After meeting her Canadian husband, a fellow truck driver, Brummitt moved to Manitoba where she landed a job in 2015 with a Winnipeg trucking company.
However, a few months later she says she was fired by Jade Transport for having the dog with her and failing to notify the company.
She says her termination letter indicates the company has always had a no-animals policy in the trucks because dogs are a safety issue and a concern at many North American chemical plants.
Brummitt says her case is before the Canadian Human Rights Commission, adding she has struggled financially since losing her job and her Canadian work permit.
She says having Big with her is crucial for her well-being.
“At night he sleeps with me so that when I have night terrors … he actually wakes me up,” says Brummitt. “And it’s been really great having him because of course he can see and hear things before I would.”
Jade Transport declined comment and the Manitoba Trucking Association says it’s unaware of the dispute, but says companies are often caught between conflicting regulations.
The association says companies want to comply with the human rights code and accommodate a request like a service dog, but must also meet the rules of shippers and receivers.
“So when we find ourselves in those situations, again, we have to defer to the safety end of things, whether we like to or not,” says association executive director Terry Shaw.
The association says many jobs involve transporting chemicals and industrial goods and service animals can’t wear protective equipment or respirators and can’t be trained on emergency response protocols.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission says there’s been a handful of cases involving service dogs since 2011. Due to privacy concerns, it doesn’t comment on specific cases.
It says if a dispute is not resolved through mediation, the case can go to a tribunal for a decision.
This story was filed to the Canadian Press by CTV Winnipeg