If someone looks sort of icky, do you have the right to ask them to leave your restaurant? According to the United States Government, the answer is “no, not if they look icky because of a protected disability.” A Golden Corral restaurant in Michigan has learned that lesson the hard way, and throwing out a child with a genetic skin condition will cost them $60,000.
According to court documents, in 2011, the manager of this Golden Corral approached a family and asked them to leave, allegedly because because of one child’s appearance. The blisters and scabs on her skin were caused by a genetic condition and weren’t contagious, the mother explained. She would not contaminate the chocolate fountain. The family were kicked out of the restaurant anyway.
Multiple family members have a disorder called epidermolysis bulosa, in which the kind of everyday things that happen to most people’s skin on a daily basis like friction, pressure, or changes in temperature cause huge blisters to form. It looks scary, but is not contagious.
The family filed a complaint against the restaurant, and the U.S. Department of Justice sued the Golden Corral. Two years later, the family has emerged victorious: the DOJ and the Golden Corral have settled. The family will receive $50,000–$10,000 per family member–and the restaurant has to pay a $10,000 civil penalty.
More importantly, they’ve been ordered to put new employees through diversity training from a third-party provider. We like to imagine that the class will be called something like “How Not to be a Jerk to People With Rare Diseases.” From the court’s consent order issued yesterday:
Within thirty (30) days of the entry of this Consent Order, [the owners], and all current employees of the Golden Corral of [redacted] restaurant who interact with the public, shall undergo in-person training on their obligations under the ADA with specific emphasis on accommodating persons with less common disabilities.
Westland restaurant to pay $50,000 for denying service to family [Detroit Free Press]
Complaint [PDF Download]