Local Girl Compensated after Salon Disappointment

Disabled teenagers told they would "scare customers"

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A local teenager was one of three disabled girls who won a total of £4,500 (£1,500 each) in compensation for 'scaring off other customers' in a beauty salon in Southall.

The teenager, Amy Fox, 19, was with two other teenagers - Aruna Gill and Jemimah Kumba, both in wheelchairs. The girls were accompanied by two carers when they went to the salon to get their nails painted.

Aruna and Jemimah, who suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, both use wheelchairs and a female employee was said to have told the girls: 'This is my shop. There isn't enough room for the pushchairs.'

The teenagers alleged that the Visage Hair and Beauty salon in Southall, West London, refused to serve them and they brought a claim under goods and services disability discrimination. The salon settled out of court.

Amy went to the shop with the other girls and the carers in August 2006. One carer checked in advance that the teenagers could be accommodated. But when the girls arrived they were confronted by a member of staff 'shooing' them away.

Their solicitor Claire Dawson said the friends were told by a member of staff that they were 'scaring off other customers'.

Miss Dawson added: 'The girls just wanted to be treated like ordinary teenagers, and it is a sad reflection on our society that prejudice got in the way. They were treated in an appalling manner and I hope that by successfully taking action, other disabled people that have suffered discrimination realise they are not alone and the law is there to protect them.'

Amy, who has learning difficulties, told how she and her friends had been asked to leave the salon and said they had been extremely upset by what happened.

'Me and my two friends went in there to get our nails painted. My two friends are in wheelchairs, but I'm not, and they wouldn't serve us.

The 19-year-old said: 'I thought it was very unfair and it was not very nice of them to do that to us. They told us that we couldn't get it done.'

Salon owner Parmail Kaur denied the allegations, but chose to settle the case out of court. She said: 'In 15 years, nothing like this has ever happened. We know how to treat disabled people. We've never had a problem before. It was all a misunderstanding. They were refused the service because we were too busy.'

Ms Kaur said she was not in the salon on the day of the incident. However, she understood the man doing nails who was initially consulted by the carer thought there would only be one customer. When the carer returned to the shop with three girls, she was told to call back to make an appointment.

She added that the man, who rented space in the salon, no longer works there.

Amy, who lives in a residential home where she is helped by carers, said the friends did eventually get their nails painted at another salon nearby.

'When we got asked to leave, we just went somewhere else and got it done there,' she said. The experience has not stopped her going to other beauty salons with her friends.

'It's not put me off things like that at all,' she added. 'I feel much better now we have been given some compensation and people can see what happened wasn't very nice. It was really unfair.'

Richard Parnell, of the disability charity Scope, said: 'This was an appalling and totally unacceptable example of disability discrimination which was severely upsetting for all three young women.

'Disabled people are entitled to the same treatment as everyone else and it is important that those that do suffer this sort of treatment have the courage to speak out. I am delighted that in this case justice has been done.'



July 14, 2008