Human rights complaint over Earls' “Albino Rhino” brand moves forward

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      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.

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      teth adam

      Dec 14, 2012 at 4:03pm

      these "Human Rights Commissions" are a joke.

      given past complaints, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if this was taken seriously and proceeded further. guess they need to justify their existence.


      Andrew wOBURN

      Dec 14, 2012 at 8:54pm

      Why are we paying the salaries of these po-faced buffoons?

      James Smith

      Dec 14, 2012 at 9:39pm

      Why should it not be taken seriously?
      Naming a Beer after a medical conditon that one has is OK with you? Maybe so for you but not so for the person with that condition, that's why we have Human Rights Commisions, to protect people from others who are Insensitive.

      Michael Castanaveras

      Dec 14, 2012 at 10:17pm

      Good on her. Looks like she does good work via her non-profit

      However, I hope this case demonstrates to her what a non-issue albinism is in Canada.

      I think she is coming at this issue from the perspective she has observed in other countries. See this article:

      Obviously Canada isn't even on the same scale as some of those countries mentioned. Sure, there could be taunting and bullying at the school age level (as with anything that set one apart from others), but certainly not into adulthood.

      Next up: Fat Burger. How do all the poor fatties feel about that name?


      Dec 14, 2012 at 11:25pm

      Of course this is offensive to people with albinism, regardless of its association with the word "rhino". Only a person with albinism can determine how offensive this issue is, the rest of are not qualified to make the call.
      Would you be offended by "amputee coffee" the coffee with less ? Or the "blindman's bird seed" or some other association ?

      Dave L.

      Dec 15, 2012 at 7:24am

      I agree there may well be some idiot people out there who would comment adversely or bully Albino people , but for the vast vast majority (including me) this is a non issue.


      Dec 15, 2012 at 11:49am

      I don't think that the issue here is whether she is offended, or whether she should be offended. The issue here is whether a judicial body should have power over people who have offended other people.
      I don't think we should be summoning people to a judicial body to evaluate the depth of their feelings. I don't like the fact that people use offensive terms, but I worry more about protecting freedom of speech. Some offence taken is the price we pay for free speech.

      Think about it

      Dec 15, 2012 at 11:51am

      Really?! You are offended by the name of a beer on a restaurant menu? It is calling to light a genetic condition, but not degrading it. Honestly, why should you be offended? -unless the Medical condition itself is offensive, which it's not. It really isn't being used in any derogatory way. There are many foods named after medical conditions, Heart attack burger etc. Shall we ban those too? Hey while we are banning ridiculous things- Let's take this to it's farthest level? No more Blonde Beers? Being blonde is just as genetic as Albinism, and I can think of way more blonde jokes than Albino jokes. Should Africans be offended by "Dark" Beers? Should white people be offended by white wines? How about the French being offended by French Fries? Frankly I think it's a compliment to Albinos everywhere. A waste of taxpayers dollars to let this kangaroo court go on any longer. (Apologies to all the offended Kangaroos out there)


      Dec 15, 2012 at 12:14pm

      I'm waiting to see how this pans out. For years I've been personally offended by the "Fat Bastard" wine label.

      DC in BC

      Dec 15, 2012 at 12:29pm

      Ikponwosa Ero: It's about having a little fun with the name of the beer and nothing about people. Don't you get it? I bet you are just trying to make a name for yourself, right? Be careful here, you may not like the resulting publicity!