Lack of Inclusion or Full On Exclusion?

This article came out in my local paper this week.  I had to read it more than once and then let it simmer before the disgust I felt was at a point I could write this post with any sense of calm.  My words were not flowing for a while there this morning.

Here’s the link, read for yourself and see how you feel.

Don’t want to read?  Well, here is the gist.  Group of  adults with disabilities were out in the community as part of their program.  They stopped at a fast food place to grab a bite to eat.  One of their members was loud.  One of the support workers was trying to quiet him down.  And then…a manager told them they would have to leave if they couldn’t quiet him.  There were few people in the restaurant.  Those that were there shared that it was no big deal.  The adults weren’t really bothering anyone and that they saw the manager become more and more irritated.  So, they left.

Worse…the article shared that the company did an internal investigation and found that the manager didn’t do anything wrong.

So, essentially, the employee has just been rewarded for excluding a group of individuals because their behavior is outside of the norm.  They weren’t aggressive or physical, just making noises.

I’m gonna tell you that I’ve been at this establishment before and heard children screaming at the top of their lungs, teenagers swearing and being loud,  trash on the ground, people arguing on the phone and had kids running through the restaurant.  And, not once, never, have I seen ANY of these people be asked to leave.

I am gonna go out on a limb and give this person some grace.  I’m going to assume that he was driven by fear and ignorance.  I’m going to assume that he just didn’t understand this person.  I’m going to assume he has never seen nor been around a person with a disability.

For this reason, I’m floored that the corporate office responded as they did.  I am shocked and appalled that they didn’t immediately respond with sensitivity training and immediate removal of the person.

In Naperville, IL, a family brought public an incident.  They were moved to a different table because someone didn’t want to sit near them because they were African American.  BWW fired the employees involved.  Fired them!  They should have been fired.  It’s a civil rights issue and I’m glad B-Dubs took action.

The company told CBS News, “We take this incident very seriously and after conducting a thorough, internal investigation have terminated the employees involved. Buffalo Wild Wings values an inclusive environment and has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”

Perhaps some companies need to follow suit.  Interestingly enough, in an article posted on Fox News, it states that the company says it works hard to create an inclusive environment.  Really?  Do you?

“These comments are inconsistent with our Company’s values and do not reflect Wendy’s hiring practices,” a representative said. “We work hard to create a welcoming and inclusive environment in our restaurants, and will address this appropriately.”

So, I ask you all and Wendy’s…how was the behavior of this employee consistent with your values?  How does excluding a person who has an obvious disability yet is harming no one align with your values? THIS IS ALSO A CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE!  Shame on you, Wendy’s!  Shame….on….you!

Friends, this is why we must continue to fight for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in our communities.  We cannot allow this behavior by a company to continue and to be accepted.  So, how do we do it?

  1.  Be present in your communities.  I know it’s hard.  I know you’re exhausted.  Do it anyway.  Go shopping, go out to eat, go to community events.  The more they see “us”, the more we will become a part of the community.
  2. Get involved in your community.  Join groups.  Let people know who you are and who your child is.
  3. Organize functions.  When you are organizing, you are leading.  Lead the way and help others to see HOW to include your child or adult.
  4. Don’t take no for an answer.  Ask questions.  Why can’t my child come?  Why can’t we make this accessible?  Why are you okay with not making attempts to include families of individuals with disabilities?
  5. Be transparent.  We have to help people understand our lives and our children.  Some people just don’t know.

There are so many who want to fight for inclusion in the school setting and while I see the need, absolutely I do, I think we have a far bigger problem.  This incident in Wendy’s happens every day at some restaurant in some obscure city somewhere in the world.  This, sadly isn’t an anomaly.

However, we can’t let this continue.  This journey is long and this journey is hard.  But, parents, we have a mission and a responsibility to help this world see our kids and the benefits they bring.

I recommend all of you reach out to Wendy’s and share your frustration with the way this incident was handled.

On another note, if you are in the Kenosha, WI area, Dickey’s BBQ is a wonderful option.  I have taken my very vocal son with autism and cerebral palsy into their restaurant and they have been so welcoming and helpful.  I’ve written a review for them on Yelp and it’s companies like this that will get my money.

Stay strong and continue to advocate.  It’s going to be a long road, folks.

To Wendy’s

I’d love for you to dispute these articles and I’ll happily remove this post and write a public apology if it is inaccurate.

Your website states:

“You earn your reputation by the things you do every day.” – Dave Thomas

You are dead on accurate Wendy’s! Now, the whole community can see what you think is “okay” for your staff to do every day.

Always advocating…


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Disclaimer:  There are exceptions to every rule.  Children and adults with disabilities are people with their own individual needs and desires.  The ideas and advice given in this blog are for your consideration only and should not be taken as legal, medical or educational advice, as every single situation is different.

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