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|A man with disabilities was mistaken for being a lottery seller and was asked to leave a store of Highlands, a majority-owned unit of Filipino food and beverages giant Jollibee Foods Corporation|
A Facebook user named Le Van Truong shared on his wall the unpleasant situation at a Highlands café in Ho Chi Minh City, which he found shocking, mortifying, and humilating.
“As I entered the coffee shop, a security staff mistook me for a lottery seller. I refused, saying I had an appointment with my friends here. To make matters worse, a staff then came over and told me that Highlands did not allow lottery sellers on the premises. It was very upsetting to be humiliated like that and I asked to speak to the manager but the staff refused outright, which was completely unprofessional,” Truong wrote.
|Le Van Truong shared his unpleasand experience at a Highlands café on Facebook|
Some of Truong's acquaintances advised him not to make his experience public, but he refused to bite the bullet.
“While the Vietnamese government is putting a great deal of effort into minimising the gap between people living with disabilities and those who are not, the ill-mannered staff at Highlands only adds fuel to the fire. Their action said it all: the disabled are just like lottery sellers, they are not allowed into Highlands for a cup of coffee. Put yourself in my shoes – was I supposed to just sit and take it in silence?” asked Truong.
|Customers are looking to expand awareness about discrimination against the disabled|
His previous Facebook post was made invisible to the public, but Truong also added more details.
According to him, Highlands sent an email to him to apologise in the afternoon of February 17, 2020.
“Highlands insulted me publicly, with its staff specifically excluding me, a person with disabilities, from receiving service. I don't think an email apology will cut it. Highlands’ representative explained that the fault was of a misguided staff member, but the security staff and the waitress were both the same – it could be a glaring fault in Highlands' industry-wide training programme.”
There was an arranged meeting between Truong and Highlands Coffee representatives at Highlands store, 370 Tan Son Nhi Street, Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City on February 18, with the Disability and Development Organization (DRD) intervening to resolve the conflict.
Truong added, "Highlands Coffee agreed to publicly apologise, but they have to wait for the board of directors' opinion, so I've extended the deadline to Thursday, February 20."
A public apology would seem nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to control damage already done. However, if Highlands cannot make the gesture, its commitments that such an incident will never happen again will carry little to no credibility.
|There was an arranged meeting between Truong and Highlands Coffee representatives at Highlands store, 370 Tan Son Nhi Street, Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City on February 18, with the Disability and Development Organization (DRD) intervening to resolve the conflict|
It is noted that Highlands Coffee is majority-owned by Jollibee Foods Corporation – the Filipino food and beverage giant.
Last year, Jollibee spent $350 million on acquiring Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. After the announcement, Jollibee's shares fell by 8 per cent, the single largest drop in two years.
In 2017, Jollibee Food Corporation had publicly apologised to a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community named Bunny Cadag who complained of alleged discrimination at one of its branches.
In a statement, Jollibee “sincerely apologised” to Bunny Cadag, promising that it was an "isolated incident".
|Jollibee Food Corporation had publicly apologised to a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community named Bunny Cadag|
VIR is reaching out for comments and will update the article.