Restaurants That Discriminate Against Kids With Special Needs: Watch Out!
The Golden Corral restaurant in Westland, Michigan will be paying $50,000 to a family with kids who have a genetic condition, plus $10,000 in civil penalties—all because a manager flat-out refused to serve them.
Danielle Duford has four daughters; three of them have epidermolysis bullosa, a skin disorder that triggers blisters due to temperature changes or minor injuries (and results in scabbing). According to the Justice Department’s lawsuit, even though Duford informed the restaurant manager about her children’s condition and emphasized that they did not have a contagious disease, the manager asked the family to leave the restaurant. He claimed he’d received complaints from other customers.
The incident is in clear violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits public accommodations—including restaurants—from discriminating against people on the basis of disability. Imagine how horrified the mother must have felt and how ashamed her girls must have been, as if they don’t already have so much to contend with.
As the parent of a kid with special needs, it is heartening to see justice served for blatant discrimination like this. Restaurants can be tricky territory when you have a child with disabilities, especially if you happen to be seated next to ignorant idiots. Back in January, a Houston waiter made headlines for refusing to serve a man who asked that his family be moved away from one who had a five-year-old with Down syndrome and who is said to have commented, “Special needs children need to be special somewhere else.” That incident was tried in the court of public morals, and that man condemned.
I hope this settlement attracts a whole lot of attention, and sends a clear-cut message to restaurants: Discrimination against people with special needs will not be tolerated. As Eve Hill, Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division said, “No one should be excluded from participating in the basic activities of daily living on account of fears of their disability, nor should children be shamed from going out in public.”
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