Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NYC wheelchair user, 101, wins settlement from hair salon that turned her away

From CBS 2 in NYC:

NEW YORK — She may be 101 and wheelchair bound, but she’s clearly not a person to be trifled with.

Now, the owner of a hair salon has agreed to pay her a settlement after she was turned away from his shop.

Nettie Lobsenz (pictured) was 99 when it happened — being turned away from a beauty salon because of her wheelchair.

“Yes, very clearly, yes,” Lobsenz said when asked by CBS 2’s John Slattery how clearly she recalled the incident. “I could never figure out why.”

Well, her daughter, Juliette Gould, now 74, thought it was a case of discrimination.

“Outrageous. It’s absolutely outrageous. I get angry about all sorts of discrimination and this was absurd,” Gould said.

It happened in April of 2008 at a beauty salon on Amsterdam Avenue, a place Mrs. Lobsenz had never been to before.

Gould said when her mother arrived with the wheelchair, and an aid, a young woman at the door, wouldn’t let them in.

“When the owner or the manager of the salon saw us approaching, she came to the door and told the young woman not to let us in and she didn’t let us in,” Gould said.

“They closed the door and looked passed us seeing what’s going on,” Lobsenz said.

Gould said she was told it’s because her mother couldn’t walk, so Gould left to get her mother’s walker, but they still weren’t allowed in, being told it was a liability issue.

“If mother’s seated in a wheelchair, she’s not likely to fall. It didn’t make any sense,” Gould said.

A complaint to the city’s Human Rights Commission has resulted in a ruling against the salon, and an award of $7,500. The owner of the salon was not available and Slattery was turned away when he tried to get a comment.

As part of the settlement, the salon owner also agreed to display a sign welcoming people with disabilities. So far, it’s not in the window.

The salon, which denies any discrimination, has 30 days to post the sign saying it welcomes people with disabilities.