A high profile amputee has shared a sad story about the way she was allegedly treated at a Brisbane café.
Despite the cruel behaviour of staff, experts say the incident doesn’t amount to unlawful impairment discrimination.
High profile amputee hesitant to tell story
Former journalist and Labor hopeful, Ali France, had her left leg amputated above the knee in 2011.
An out-of- control car driven by an elderly driver pinned her against another car in a shopping centre carpark.
She almost bled to death after the collision severed her femoral artery.
France hesitated to tell the story of her experience in the café, but eventually decided to do so on International Day of People with Disabilities.
She wrote on Twitter:
“Because there’s always someone in the disabled bay without a permit, someone pushing ahead of a wheelchair in a queue, someone in a disabled toilet who shouldn’t be there and a guy who says you just need to get up and leave.”
High profile amputee cops cruel treatment at Brisbane café
In a Twitter thread, France explained that she recently underwent further surgery and, as a result, is using an electric scooter to get around.
On 21 November, the mother of two had been shopping at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre with her children.
They stopped at Jamaica Blue café to buy hot chocolates, however, the café was so busy, she couldn’t get the scooter inside.
Therefore, France sent her eldest son inside to order the drinks while she waited outside.
She then got out of the scooter and sat at a table with her youngest son, but that’s when the trouble started.
A waitress told her she couldn’t sit at the table unless she ordered something.
After explaining to the waitress that her son was at the counter ordering, the waitress then told France the area was about to close.
“I said I’d had surgery, was an amputee and wanted to stay while waiting for the order.”
The waitress then left and returned with a man who also said they had to leave.
“I BEGGED him to let us stay until the order arrived, said I’d just got outa (sic) hospital. He said if I didn’t move he’d call security.
“I looked at the family next to us who were firmly in their seats and weren’t being asked to move.
“I said go ahead call security, we’ve just bought hot chocolates from you and they are yet to be delivered.
“He then said how dare you, if you are asked leave you leave. He walked off.”
The man later returned telling France she had to order food to sit at the table.
Security subsequently arrived and told France she had to leave.
“There were lots of people watching around us, staring. I hadn’t even had a chance to take a sip of the hot chocolate. I got back into the scooter SOBBING.
“We were escorted out.”
“IMPAIRMENT AND SEX DISCRIMINATION MOST COMMON COMPLAINTS TO ADCQ”
Chose to be cruel
France said staff at the café could easily have let her sit at the table.
“They could have let me sign the COVID form, they could have waited 10 min. The cafe wasn’t closing for another hour. They chose to be cruel.
“It’s not often that I fight my corner but it left me in pieces, distraught.
“Because while it was just one terrible encounter of many, it won’t be the last.
“Today on #IDPWD I think we need to speak about them. We need to call #ableism out.
“Shame on you #jamaicablue”
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Human Rights Claims says the incident does not amount to impairment discrimination.
“Discrimination happens when someone with an impairment or disability is treated differently, or less favourably, than someone without an impairment or disability,” he said.
“In this case, it seems that the rule about not sitting at the table applies to all customers – including those with an impairment.
“Therefore, it is unlikely that Ms France will have a claim for unlawful impairment discrimination.
“Don’t get me wrong, the behaviour of the café staff was appalling, but it was not unlawful.”
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