Home entertainment giant JB Hi-Fi has been forced to apologise after a man with Down syndrome was refused entry to a Queensland store.
The family of 21-year-old James Milne were outraged at the refusal at the company’s Mt Ommaney outlet on Monday.
Mr Milne’s sister, Victoria, said her brother had been heading into the store with her father when a security guard stepped in front of them and told them they were not allowed to enter.
“My dad, confused, asked: ‘Why not?’ and the security guard said that he had my brother’s photo and he wasn’t allowed in,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
“My dad asked to see the manager and while he is being called, the security guard goes through his phone to find a photo of the young man that they think is my brother.
“When my dad and the manager are shown a photo of a white male who also had Down’s syndrome, my dad says it’s clearly not James, who has olive skin, and the manager replied “well they look the same”.”
The pair were still refused entry, and left after James became visibly upset.
The family later requested the manager apologise, but were allegedly refused with the response 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'”.
But a day later, the company backtracked and said they would review their customer policies as a result.
“We would like to apologise unreservedly to James,”JB Hi-Fi CEO Richard Murray told Quest Newspapers.
“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 endeavour to contact the family to apologise directly.”
A petition from Ipswich councillor Paul Tully said the store’s actions were “a breach of both state and federal law” and gathered nearly 30,000 signatures in just 11 hours.
Mr Tully called for action on the “unlawful discrimination”.
“That’s to ensure that this unlawful discrimination is ceased immediately and an apology is issued to the family involved,” Cr Tully said.
“I’m appalled by this action by the store at Mt Ommaney (and) I’m urging the family to take legal action.”