Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Help Me Howard: Too Fat for Pedicure
What would you do if you walked into a business and they said, "We won't serve you because you are too tall or too short or too fat"? It's hard to believe, but, in this day and age, it happened. But is it legal? It's a question one South Florida woman is asking and Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser is answering.
WSVN -- From her hair to her hands to her toes, Fontella likes to be pampered.
Fontella Fleming: "It's beauty. I guess we could do it ourselves, but it's better if we pay someone to do it, make it look better, so, you know, men like to see nice toes."
And to keep looking nice, recently, Fontella went with four family members to get pedicures and manicures.
Fontella Fleming: "They were telling all the other girls to sit here, sit there, sit there, and they didn't say anything to me, so I thought they were waiting on a certain person to do it."
When Fontella's turn came, instead of a pedicure she got a verbal fist to the face.
Fontella Fleming: "She came to me, and the lady said she can't service me because I am too fat for the chairs."
Now, Fontella is not a stick, but she doesn't consider herself obese at all.
Patrick Fraser: "Is that what you call yourself, 'plus-sized'?"
Fontella Fleming: "Full-figured, plus-sized, yeah."
But when you are in a salon full of people, to have an employee tell you in front of everyone, 'You're too fat,' well, imagine how you would feel?
Patrick Fraser: "What's that like to be called too fat?"
Fontella Fleming: "It's embarrassing, for one. My feelings were hurt. I mean it's just embarrassing."
And, actually, Fontella says if they didn't want to do her nails, that's fine. There are just better ways of doing it.
Fontella Fleming: "They should have a sign that says, 'We don't service plus-sized people' or something, save the embarrassment."
There were no signs at this shop. Fontella says she didn't argue with them, just quietly walked away.
Fontella Fleming: "It's not fair. It's not fair for plus-sized [women] for them to discriminate like that."
Now, no one is perfect, and can a business tell someone, 'Go away, you're too tall, too short or too fat'? Let's talk to the guy who is not the tallest in the world, but the guy we look up to for legal advice.
Howard Finkelstein: "This may surprise people, but you can discriminate against someone because they are too tall, too short or too large. In fact, in most places outside South Florida, a business can refuse to serve you because you are gay. It's legal, but it's not right."
Patrick Fraser: "When I spoke to the salon manager he told me, 'We only have small chairs. We don't have a big chair for the fat lady. I am sorry about that."
Surprising answer for a surprising problem.
Howard Finkelstein: "This is usually not a problem. Most businesses want customers and find a way to serve them, so they can make money, and if you find a business that discriminates, tell your friends and boycott them."
Fontella certainly will and hopes everyone realizes no one is perfect, and everyone has feelings.
Fontella Fleming: "I can't help it because I am heavy. Many people down here are heavy, a lot of people are heavy, and we can't help it if we are heavy."
The fact that you can discriminate against someone because of their size, or lack of it, really amazed me.
They can hurt your feelings, but, like Howard says, you can hurt them worse-- in the wallet.
Big on getting a problem resolved? Contact us. No one would ever call us perfect physical specimens, but Howard, who is 5 foot and some change, won't come up short on the legal end.
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