Sunday, July 3, 2011


I go to church this morning. This is good.

I go to lunch with a small group of friends. This is also good.

I go to Aldi's and raised my voice. This too, is good.

We should raise our voice against injustice. Aldi's in Glen Carbon refused to allow Terry to buy groceries. Terry depends on her trained service animal much like you might depend on your eyes or your legs to accomplish routine tasks. The dog was sporting his "accessibility jacket" indicating that he was not a pet. Yet, Terry was approached first by a clerk and then by a Manager who asked her to leave when she could not produce a card identifying the service animal. Can you imagine having to produce a card for your eyes or your legs or even your unruly children?

A crowd was gathered at the check-out and Terry felt humiliated and understandably angry. She went home without any groceries and called me. I was livid and it didn't even happen to me. It's strange how sometimes we give ourselves emotional permission to become angry over another person's injuries and yet not so much with our own wounds at times.

When I spoke with Terry on the phone, I was literally across the street from Aldi's. I immediately went there and asked to speak with a Manager on her behalf. They paged someone and when I asked the woman's name she says to me "Why do you want to know?" I realized I had an audience of approximately twenty people standing in line waiting to pay for their groceries so I answered her question in a rather loud voice. "The reason I am asking is because it's against the law for Aldi's to refuse service to someone with a disability who has a service animal." I was not hateful or mean or aggressive. I was just loud.

Apparently, she was not the manager to speak with because she proceeded to page someone else. For a moment I thought it might even be security, but I had not done anything wrong by answering her question in a loud voice and I was being very intentional to stay out of the way of customer traffic that was exiting the store. I spoke with another Manager who offered to call Terry and apologize to her, as well as speak with the 'powers that be' at Aldi's about this discriminatory store policy. After I left the store, I called Terry and shared the conversation with her. When the Manager calls her to apologize, she plans to thank him for his apology and ask if she can shop at Aldi's. If the answer is yes, it will be unfortunate that this happened but the matter will be resolved. If the answer is no, Terry will take further action. Either way, I'll post an update next week.


At July 5, 2011 at 6:44 AM , Blogger Lynn said...

Unfortunately, we still face ignorance of the law. Some people still don't know. It wasn't long ago that a staff member, her service dog, and I attempted to visit a consumer in a local hospital. The person manning the information desk stated we could not bring a dog into the hospital and called her supervisor when we explained that we could. We were permitted to enter and walked away knowing we had educated one more person. And sometimes that's truly how it person at a time.
IMPACT Center for Independent Living covers Madison County and I'm sure they would be happy to help educate Aldi's staff by way of a disability awareness presentation. Give them a call at 618-462-1411.

At July 22, 2011 at 6:25 PM , Blogger AJ French said...

Just to let folks know, Terry has contacted a civil rights attorney.


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