Meow Cat Café in Toronto denied disabled teenager Jacob Trossman entry because he uses a wheelchair. The reason why the owner, Erica Yun, banned him is because a cat had been injured by a client in a wheelchair. It was Jacob’s birthday celebration making the banning all the more hurtful and he loves cats.
Yun had been told by the police that she had the right to refuse any customer. If the police are right it seems to run a horse and cart through disabiity discrimination laws.
Perhaps they are correct. Disability laws are mainly concerned with being treated equally in employment. I think this is a fine point. There may be discrimination here or the café may be in breach of Toronto laws on shops making provision for disabled people. I am pretty sure such laws exist in Canada.
The café would have allowed Jacob in if he left his wheelchair outside which was clearly impossible and a rather strange offer.
Jacob suffers from a neurodegenerative disorder affecting the transmission of signals through his nerves.
Yun says her first concern is her cats. If she is forced to let in people in wheelchairs she says she’ll shut down the café. She has a responsibility to keep the cats safe she says which is obviously correct.
I wonder, though, if there was not room to compromise and find a solution. If Yun were to accompany the wheelchair as it made its way through the café and requested that Jacob remain in the same position throughout his stay that surely would prevent injury to a cat. She could then supervise his exit from the establishment. Jacob could have been placed near the entrance as well.
I sense that a solution could be have been found. This story has made the internet news. Is that good or bad for the cafe?
The cafe denies it is a case of discrimination.
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