The age of social media justice is alive and well, and one Brisbane native used it to spread the injustice that had been brought upon her family. The result was a personal letter of apology from the chief executive of the store JB Hi-Fi, which denied entry to a man with Down’s Syndrome.
Victoria Milne took to Facebook and told the story of her brother James, 21, who was refused entry to Australia’s Mount Ommaney JB Hi-Fi store on Monday. When James and his father, who also has Down’s Syndrome, tried to enter the store, a security guard refused them entry and said that James was on a list of customers banned from the premises. Milne vented the story and expressed the disgust she felt with the treatment her family received and the post received over 86,000 shares at the time of this report, with commenters siding with the family and many vowing to boycott the store. Another sister, Cassy also posted a picture with her brother and James tagging Victoria in solidarity of what Victoria wrote about the store.
“I have never been so disgusted and mad in my life. Today at JB HiFi Mt Ommaney, when my dad and my brother (who has Down’s syndrome) entered the store the security guard immediately stepped in front of my brother and said that he wasn’t allowed in the store.”
Milne went on to say that her father requested to see the manager and that was when the guard used his phone to show the photo of the banned individual with Down’s Syndrome. James’ father pointed out that they were different persons, with the male in the photo being white, while James had an olive complexion that reflected his half-Fijian heritage. Upon arrival, the manager insisted that it was James, saying that they look the same.
When the pair arrived home, Victoria and James’ mom called the store and demanded an apology for the very upset James. Victoria wrote that it was at this point that the manager told her that he (James) “would never, ever, ever get an apology” from him and that he had “the right to stop anyone he pleased from entering the store.”
The Queensland Down Syndrome Association (QDSA) condemned the actions of the guard and manager. They added that this was a rare case of discrimination, as a majority of the society was very accepting and they did not get many complaints. The chief executive of the QDSA, Louise Lloyd, gave a statement in Australia’s ABC report.
“The issue from my perspective is really around the insensitive handling of this situation, that maybe the dad and the gentleman with Down syndrome perhaps could have been taken off to the side or to another room and his identity established, rather than an already marginalised person being made more marginalised in front of everybody.”
The Guardian showed that Richard Murray, the chief executive of JB Hi-Fi, sent a letter apologizing to James, but Victoria stated she was unimpressed. In the letter, Murray stated that the manager was deeply distressed. Murray also maintains that the company apologizes unreservedly and will do better in the future to review customer policies and ensure they “reflected best practice.”
We sincerely hope that such a clear case of discrimination does not happen again. What do you think? Should the manager go unpunished for the treatment of James?
[Photo Courtesy of Cassy Milne / Facebook]