A woman with a disability has spoken out about a “terrible encounter” when she was escorted from a Queensland cafe because she sat down at a table to wait for her takeaway order.
Disability advocate Ali France, who had her left leg amputated after being hit by a car in 2011, shared details of the “cruel” experience on Twitter to coincide with the International Day of People with Disabilities.
“Because there is 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,” Ms France wrote.
Ms France said the incident occurred on November 21 while she was at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre in Brisbane with her children.
It was her first attempt to go shopping since recent surgery that left her reliant on an electric scooter.
“We needed to rest and refuel. We got sushi and headed to Jamaica Blue for hot choccies but I couldn’t get my scooter in,” Ms France tweeted.
She sent her oldest son in to purchase the drinks as the cafe was too crowded and she sat with her youngest daughter at a table outside, next to another family eating while they waited for the takeaway order.
“I was relieved to get out of the scooter as it has no lumbar support,” Ms France wrote.
She said a waitress then approached her and asked her to leave as the area she was sitting in was about to close.
After explaining that her son was inside ordering hot chocolate to go, Ms France said she also explained to the waitress about her disability but it went unnoticed.
“I said I’d had surgery, was an amputee and wanted to stay while waiting for the order,” she wrote.
That’s when Ms France said a man appeared and threatened to call security if she didn’t leave, despite her “begging” him to let her stay until her drinks arrived.
“I looked at the family next to us who were firmly in their seats and weren’t being asked to move,” Ms France said.
“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 to leave, you leave’. He walked off.”
Ms France wrote she was then told the tables were only for customers who had ordered food and she was required to signed in on the cafe’s Covid safe form.
“I said I was happy to sign it but as he knew the sheet was inside at the counter where I couldn’t get to. He said he’d called security,” Ms France wrote.
By the time a security guard arrived Ms France said she was “in tears”.
The mother of two said the security guard was “lovely” and tried to assist by attempting to bring the Covid form for her to sign, however he returned from the cafe to explain that she was no longer welcome.
“Sorry they won’t allow you to sign in, I have to ask you to leave,” Ms France said the security guard told her.
As Ms France and her children were “escorted out”, the distraught mother said people were staring as she sobbed getting back into her scooter.
“The woman who asked me to leave, the bloke who told me to leave and Jamaica Blue could so easily have let me sit, they could have let me sign the Covid form, they could have waited 10 minutes,” she said.
“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.”
Ms France said the incident was just one terrible encounter of many she has experienced as a person with a disability and was determined to speak out.
“Today on International Day of People with Disabilities (December 3) I think we need to speak about them. We need to call ableism out. Shame on you Jamaica Blue,” she said.
Jamaica Blue released a statement to the ABC apologising to Ms France.
"Jamaica Blue and our franchise owner at Indooroopilly would like to sincerely apologise for any offence or embarrassment experienced by Ali France and her family."
"We serve hundreds of people with disabilities every day at our cafes and employ many people with disabilities. We are deeply disappointed by this incident and apologise unreservedly."
Yahoo News Australia has contacted Jamaica Blue for comment.
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