Allergy discrimination at the gym

What happened:

I presented to the gym crèche for the first time. I handed my enrolment forms to the staff member with my two sons present (aged 2 and 3 years of age at the time) at the locked gate. She looked at my forms and said to me “I can't accept your son because he has a peanut allergy".

I asked her why that was the case as I had only packed them fruit and understood that only fruit was served at the crèche. The staff member told me that I would need an allergy action plan. I had an action plan, but she then informed me that if I did not have antihistamines for my sons, they could not be let in.

I indicated that the information sheet stated that no medication was to be brought into the crèche so I did not bring any medication. She said if he had an anaphylactic reaction he would need his EpiPen. I stated that he was not anaphylactic and did not need an EpiPen. She said I would need to bring in medication in order for them to be let in. Essentially, both my sons were refused entry to the crèche because they had an allergy.

At the time of the incident, my eldest son was 3 and fully comprehended that he was being rejected at the crèche gate. He burst into tears and was distraught. He was extremely excited to be going to the gym for the first time, and to be rejected at the door was very upsetting.

How I managed it:

  • I moved to another gym so that my children could attend a gym crèche where there were carers who did not discriminate against them because of their allergy.

  • I lodged a written complaint to the gym management about the incident.

  • I was not satisfied with the gym response, so lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission for discrimination. The matter went to conciliation and was unsuccessfully resolved. I am unable to disclose the discussions relating to the conciliation process.

What I have learnt:

  • That people may have a fear against children with allergies because they do not understand severity of allergic reactions. There is the misconception that those with a peanut allergy must be anaphaytic and require an EpiPen. In this case, the staff member thought my son had an allergy to peanut and therefore required an EpiPen even though he does not require one. This highlights that people without EpiPen prescription sometimes face difficulties because of the fact they do not have a prescription.

  • That people can lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Commission if they believe that they have been discriminated against.

Content created June 2019

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