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

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.

Comments (26) Add New Comment
teth adam
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.

Rating: +56
Andrew wOBURN
Why are we paying the salaries of these po-faced buffoons?
Rating: +38
James Smith
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.
Rating: -70
Michael Castanaveras
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?
Rating: +13
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 ?

Rating: -59
Dave L.
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.
Rating: +34
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.
Rating: +25
Think about it
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)
Rating: +50
I'm waiting to see how this pans out. For years I've been personally offended by the "Fat Bastard" wine label.
Rating: +42
DC in BC
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!
Rating: +42
The human rights commission is NOT to protect cry babies from people who are 'insensitive'. It's to protect against violations of real human rights not endorse censorship and tyranny through any nutjob who feels slighted

Rating: +21
It is obviously not discriminating as it clearly says "Albino Rhino" now unless she is a rhino how can it be discriminating as a Rhino is not a person, last I herad discrimination against animals is ok!
Rating: +20
no more BLONDE coffee? DARK roast? AGED Sumatra?
BLUE Eyed Mary's Bistro, American Restaurant in West Vancouver?
BLUE Eyed Crab? RED Lobster Restaurant in Everywhere?
Rating: +19
Bing Bang Boom
I have hazel coloured eyes.

I demand that EVERYBODY stop calling the fruit of the Corylus avellana a nut because they are calling me a NUT too.
Rating: +19
BCHRT: A morally-subjective playground for trendy lawyers who aren't ethically and/or intellectually capable of working within the inconveniently well defined boundaries of the real court system.
Rating: +15
when is alopecia (hairless) margarita night?
Rating: +10
Juan Carlos
This makes a complete mockery of the Human Rights Complaints infrastructure in place. What a colossal waste of money.

Political Correctness is going to prevent this young culture of less than 150 years from ever developing anything of substance. Every f#@$ing word has to be carefully thought through before you open your mouth, lest you offend someone, somewhere... and come under the wrath of someone who has nothing better to do than whine "me me me!" about something insignificant that nobody could care less about.
Rating: +12
out at night
I was one of those people who had acne so bad it deserved its own medical category. To this day I still have a pretty lousy complexion and this has of course deeply affected me in many ways.

But go ahead and call your soda pop Pimply Winkly if you want to. It's not that such a title wouldn't cause me a degree of discomfort. It's just that I've got a life to live y'know? Much, much, much better and more important things to worry about and do with my time.
Rating: +17
Albino Rhino has been on tap at Earls for over a decade so where has Ikponwosa Ero been? This is almost akin to the person in Newfoundland who wanted Money for Nothing banned from the radio for its speculative language when it's been played daily on the radio for 25+ years.

If people want their cause taken seriously, maybe have some perspective and common sense first.
Rating: +13
Just because you don't find it offensive doesn't mean it isn't. I'm quite sure ignorant people throughout history have thought the same. Now that it has been raised into your awareness however... Why wouldn't this company want to be cool and say "Hey we honestly didn't think about it when we named this beer but we're not in business to hurt feelings, we're in business to make people feel good! We are retiring this name and rebranding this beer the HAPPY HIPPO." That would be a smart PR move. Why dig in your heels and stir up some douchey debate? Be the good guys.
Rating: -17


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