Sterling, N.Y. — A vendor at the Sterling Renaissance Festival affectionately known as the “Pickle Man” will not be back for this season. The longtime vendor was fired, and he claims its discrimination against him and his service dog. The festival’s organizer denies that accusation and defends his decision to let “Pickle Man” go.
Matthew Gordon sells pickles to visitors and claims this year he ran into trouble with the festival owner. He said he will miss the job.
Gordon said, “Its just a great way to make people laugh obviously you can make a lot of silly jokes when you’re dragging around a cart that says pickles on it,”
Now, he’s becoming more well known on social media sites such as Tiktok where his story is spreading. Gordon is a veteran with combat PTSD and said his dog, Faith, helps him with anxiety.
According to Gordon, every year he and his service dog walk the grounds to prepare for the event. But this year, the fair owner, Doug Waterbury, stopped him and told him dogs weren’t allowed.
“What you’re telling me is illegal against the Americans with disabilities act and he said: do you want to work here? I said yes I do but this is illegal and he said well then report me and walked into the main office.”
Gordon then said he tried to show Waterbury the ADA rules protecting him and his dog’s rights and was then fired for his attitude.
He said Waterbury told him, “That’s it you had your chance now you’re fired. I asked him if he was firing me because I had a service dog and he said no I’m firing you because of your attitude. I said yes but why am I getting an attitude right now.”
As the “Pickle Man’s” story spread , the owner of the renaissance festival Doug Waterbury posted this lengthy explanation of the incident on Facebook.
Waterbury claims Gordon wasn’t given permission to be on the property, didn’t pick up after his dog – and his “loud and aggressive behavior” frightened other employees.
According to lawyers, there is a potential for a lawsuit or fines in this case.
Chad Lennon, a Senior Associate at Tully Rinckey said, “If you’re going there and someone starts giving you an attitude because you have a service dog well I think that’s a violation right there. First off that’s poor taste, you know this individual has a service dog if you’re looking to fire them if you’re looking to get rid of them you can always cause a situation woah wait a minute they had an attitude with me.”