Civil Rights Commission rules against local veteran in discrimination case against resort
Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission has dismissed a discrimination complaint filed by local veteran CarrieAnn Grayson against Winter Park Resort, though the issue remains formally unsettled after Grayson appealed the decision earlier this week.
The complaint, filed by Grand County resident and former U.S. Army Captain CarrieAnn Grayson, alleges discrimination on the part of Winter Park Resort related to the resort’s service dog policy for chairlifts. Grayson, who served in the Army for several years including participating in the Iraq invasion in 2003, filed the complaint last fall.
Grayson’s complaint claims Winter Park Resort’s refusal to allow her service dog, Guinness, to ride the standard open chairlifts at Winter Park is a form of discrimination. She also contends the resort’s offered accommodation, to drive Grayson and Guinness to the top of the Zephyr lift after providing advance notice, is not a reasonable accommodation. Winter Park Resort’s policy prohibits service dogs from riding chairlifts at the resort.
In late December, Colorado’s Civil Rights Division Director Aubrey Elenis issued a 10-page ruling wherein Grayson’s complaint was dismissed.
“I conclude from our investigation that there is insufficient evidence to support the complainant’s claims for discrimination based on her protected class,” read the ruling. “The evidence does not suggest that the complainant requires an accommodation in order to utilize the respondent’s services.”
The ruling from Elenis goes on to state that Grayson utilized the Resort’s chairlifts at least 43 times last season and could access the top of the mountain from the Zephyr lift.
“As such, the evidence demonstrates that the Respondent (Winter Park Resort) did not deny the Complainant (Grayson) the full and equal enjoyment of its resort.”
Grayson has already filed an appeal against the ruling, seeking a review from the state’s Civil Rights Commission. Her appeal will be considered Feb. 23.
“This is not over yet, but we stand by our policies,” said Steve Hurlbert, Winter Park Resort spokesperson. “With respect to disabled visitors, as the home of the NSCD, we are proud of our policies and we feel like we are the industry leader. We appreciate the Civil Rights Commissions consideration in this matter and look forward to a resolution.”
For her part, Grayson contends that several elements and claims within the ruling from Elenis are incorrect.
“The determination included several erroneous statements and the division failed to include key evidence I presented during the investigation,” Grayson said of her forthcoming appeal. “I have filed an appeal explaining the multitude of misinterpretations and misconstrued facts by both the division and Winter Park Resort that were included in the determination.” Among the various points of contention Grayson highlights in her appeal is a point regarding previous instances of Grayson riding chairlifts at Winter Park Resort without Guinness. Grayson contends her original complaint had nothing to do with access to chairlifts for skiing, and that the complaint was specifically related to the experience of riding the chairlift and visiting Sunspot restaurant.
Grayson said that previous instances during which she rode the Zephyr without Guinness during winter months are irrelevant to her current complaint because during winter and ski outings she rides with other individuals who can support her PTSD should the need arise.
Grayson was additionally concerned about the administrative procedures surrounding the late December ruling from Elenis. Grayson noted that the ruling from the state was initially sent to the wrong post office box and that she did not receive the documents until the deadline date for appealing her case.
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