WESTLAND (WWJ) – The federal government is suing the Golden Corral in Westland claiming a Garden City mother and her children were denied service based on the children’s genetic skin disorder.
The lawsuit says the restaurant manager demanded that Danielle Duford and her four daughters leave after other customers noticed the skin condition of her 14-month-old daughter.
In the suit, the Duford said the manager approached their table and asked what was wrong with her child, declaring, “she has scabs all over, so obviously there is something wrong with her.”
– View a copy of the complaint (.pdf format) –
Duford said she then explained to the manager that three of her children suffer from epidermolysis bullosa, a genetic condition that causes the skin to be so fragile that the slightest friction or temperature change can cause severe blistering.
According to Duford, although she repeatedly emphasized that the kids did not have a contagious disease, the manager said the family must “go find somewhere else to eat” because their presence was making other customers uncomfortable.
Later, the police were called after Duford’s husband, who’d arrived to join his family, complained to the manager and refused to leave the restaurant. Officers arrived but no arrests were made.
According to prosecutors, federal law prohibits public accommodations, such as restaurants, from discriminating against people on the basis of disability.
“The promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act is that disabled citizens should have full access to public life. We hope that this lawsuit will assist in expanding people’s understanding of the range of disabilities and the obligations to treat all disabled citizens fairly under the law,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.
McQuade said the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the family and a civil penalty of $55,000 to be paid to the U.S. government.
A call from WWJ Newsradio 950 to the Westland Golden Corral on Wednesday was not returned.
Learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act here.