Family Shocked When Disabled Toddler Is Asked to Leave Panera Restaurant For Noisy Shoes
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Teen Mom

Family Shocked When Disabled Toddler Is Asked to Leave Panera Restaurant For Noisy Shoes

Speaking of things that leave a bad taste in your mouth, a situation turned awkward at the popular eatery known as Panera Bread in Savannah, Georgia, recently, when an employee asked a mom to leave because her daughter’s shoes were making too much noise.

According to Good Morning America via ABC News, after a customer complained about the noise of the shoes, the staff member asked 2-year-old Emma and her mother, Catherine Duke, to either remove her shoes or leave the restaurant. Emma suffers from a disability that inhibits her ability to walk and her shoes are orthopedic.

Catherine did leave the restaurant, but as a longtime customer, was shocked and dismayed over the incident. Her husband, Stephen Duke, told Good Morning America, “The employee and the manager knew what we’d been going through with Emma because she and my wife go there so frequently. They knew why she had the shoes so that’s the thing that shocked us the most.”

Emma’s shoes make noise because they are helping her learn to walk properly, her dad explained. The squeaking sound the shoes make is actually feedback to indicate that Emma is walking the proper way, in heel-to-toe fashion.

Catherine, who left Panera in tears that day with Emma, followed up with the restaurant chain’s corporate headquarters based in Missouri to lodge a formal complaint. Panera’s executives invited her to their offices for an in-person apology. and issued this statement:

“As you would expect, Panera Bread does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. The last thing we would want to do is make anyone feel unwelcome. Consistent with this system-wide policy, our franchisee met personally with Mrs. Duke to directly hear and address the concerns she has raised. We understand from our franchisee that Mrs. Duke has been assured that she and her family are always welcome at Panera and her concerns have been addressed.”

Stephen says Catherine and Emma will probably still frequent that Panera location, but he’s no longer sure if he will.

Source: ABC News

01.15.2014 / 12:00 AM EDT by Teddie McCormick
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