The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has decided to hear a complaint against Earls Restaurants over the “albino” branding of some of its menu items.
Ikponwosa Ero, who has albinism, filed a human-rights complaint over the restaurant chain’s marketing of its exclusive “Albino Rhino” beer brand and promotion of “Albino Wing Wednesdays”.
Ero alleges the use of the term “albino” by the restaurant is demeaning and humiliating. She argues people with albinism have a distinct physical appearance that has often made them the subject of ridicule.
Earls has denied it discriminated, arguing the branding was intended to be whimsical and only a reference to albinism in rhinoceroses, not human beings. The restaurant chain also says the word “albino” was picked because it rhymes with “rhino”.
Earls sought to have the compliant dismissed. However, in a ruling issued today (December 14), tribunal member Marlene Tyshynski determined the case deserves to go to hearing.
“In my view, one could reasonably conclude that there is a relationship between discriminatory product marketing due to the use of the term ‘Albino’ and differential and demeaning treatment of persons with albinism, if, of course, this is proven,” Tyshynski said in the written decision. “On its face, the complainants make an allegation that, if proven, could amount to a contravention of the [Human Rights] Code.”
Albinism is a genetic condition in which a person’s body has difficulty producing melanin, resulting in a lack of skin and hair pigment. The condition is also associated with vision problems.