Electronics giant JB Hi-Fi finds itself at the center of discrimination accusations after allegedly barring a man with Down syndrome from one of its store in Brisbane, Australia. The retailer claims it was a case of mistaken identity, but the incident seems to have rightfully offended a lot of people.
Queensland native James Milne and his father were turned away from the Ommaney store on Monday, after security guard informed the 21-year-old he “wasn’t allowed in.”
“The security guard immediately stepped in front of my brother and said he wasn’t allowed in the store,” Victoria Milne, the man’s sister, explained in an emotional Facebook post. “When my dad and the manager are shown a photo of a white male who also had Down syndrome, my dad says it’s clearly not James, who has olive skin, and the manager replied, ‘Well they look the same.’”
Although the father tried to convince the store manager that he was mistaken, since the boy in the picture was white with lighter hair and the Milne is half-Fijian with olive skin, they were still asked to leave.
“Mum called up the manager of the store, demanding that he apologize to her son, to which he replied that ‘he would never, ever, ever get an apology’ from him and that he had ‘the right to stop anyone he pleased from entering the store,’” his sister wrote, adding that the incident caused her family great distress.
The social media post soon went viral, leading the Down Syndrome Association of Queensland to demand an apology from the store manager involved. Many began calling for the manager to be fired and swamped the electronics store’s Facebook page with comments.
Within next few hours, JB Hi-Fi had taken to social media to issue a statement regarding the issue.
“We would like to apologize unreservedly to James,” company’s CEO Richard Murray said in a statement. “We should have done better yesterday. We are going to make sure that we learn from this and do better in the future. I have sent a personal letter of apology to James and we are continuing to endeavor to contact the family to apologize directly.”
The company said it will investigate the matter and review their customer policies.
Meanwhile, Milne family claims the response from JB Hi-Fi was not satisfactory. However, they have thanked the public and expressed their gratitude for overwhelming support.