A disabled woman says she was left ‘mortified’ after a supermarket worker believed she was drunk and refused her sale of wine.
The 45-year-old was driving home for her weekly Saturday evening church service on October 29 when she decided to stop at Morrisons in Berwick Hills to pick up some shopping. At the check out, the woman claims a staff member refused to sell her two bottles of wine she’d picked up as a gift for her mam believing she was intoxicated.
The Middlesbrough woman, who suffers from a number of medical conditions which can make her ‘wobbly’ on her feet, says she was left feeling “quite embarrassed” and accused the supermarket giant of “disability discrimination” for making the accusations without any proof.
The former teacher, who had to retire due to poor health, explained she actually felt fine before going to the store, however, says sometimes she doesn’t notice how ‘wobbly’ she can be on her feet.
She said: “That day I had literally just come from church. I was smartly dressed. I didn’t even feel wobbly. There’s days that I know I’m wobbly and there’s days that I know I’m not wobbly and it can just happen in a split second. I do wobble, you see. I use a walking stick.
“Even if I’m going to a supermarket and I’m buying one lemon, I always take a trolly just for stability.”
The woman suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, a long-term condition in which her spine and other areas of the body become inflamed which can cause her to be unstable on her feet. She was diagnosed with the condition aged just 19, before developing Sacroiliitis an inflammation of one or both of your sacroiliac joints — which causes pain in the buttocks and lower back. She was also recently diagnosed with epilepsy.
When she went to the till to pay for her shopping, the woman claims a worker held up the two bottles of wine she had intended to buy as a thank-you gift for her mam, who is also her carer, and said ‘we can’t sell you these’ and told her she was drunk.
She said: “I was mortified. I understand that legally they’ve got an obligation to safeguard people but it was the way it was handled.
“If it was me I’d have been like ‘madam can we take you to one side for the moment and can we just have a quick chat in a side room’ but to hold them up in the middle of the store and say you are intoxicated. And I’m quite clear on this it wasn’t we think you are, it was ‘you are intoxicated’.
“I’m absolutely mortified that I’m even having to have this conversation with people.”
After becoming flustered she collected the rest of her shopping and left quickly, but believes she was followed by two or three staff members as she went.
The woman got in touch with Morrisons about the incident but is unhappy with the way it has been dealt with, even claiming that “they tried to fob me off with £15.”
She says Morrisons should train staff to be more understanding especially as it supports the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard scheme which offers additional support to those with hidden disabilities.
A Morrisons spokesperson said: “We can’t comment on individual cases but we have a duty of care and legal responsibility to look after our customers when they shop with us.”