Fresher with Chron’s disease was ‘thrown out’ of McDonald’s after asking to use the bathroom
The manager had him removed by security
20-year-old Liam Seacombe was diagnosed with Crohn’s, an Inflammatory Bowel Disease, in 2012. On Thursday night last week, Liam went to the Kirkbridge McDonald’s in Huddersfield, where he is a student, to use the loo. The manager told him it was “closed”, then reportedly had him removed – even though Liam had presented his “Can’t Wait” card, given to those with Chrone’s Disease.
Common symptoms of the disease include recurring diarrhoea, abdominal pain, cramping, extreme fatigue, blood and mucus in stools, nausea, vomiting, unintended weight loss/gain, swollen skin and mouth ulcers. He says: “There can be long periods where symptoms subside and equally long periods where I have flare-ups. I am currently in remission with infrequent flare-ups.”
Liam visited the 24-hour McDonalds, “urgently needing to use their toilets facilities after feeling Chronically unwell on a night out”. He explained, “the venue I was in was particularly crowded and I didn’t want to be see leaving the toilet cubical. I rarely go on nights out as I fear this could happen and in this instance my anxiety became a reality, which is hard being a teenager.”
“The toilets were ‘closed’ and as I desperately needed them, I kindly asked a member of staff if I could use their toilet. The member of staff advised that the toilets were closed and further grabbed the manager who said that they were closed and couldn’t be accessed. At this point, I presented them with my “Can’t Wait” card, where the manager again, quite rudely, told me the toilets were shut. I explained to them about the card and my illness, but insisting that the toilets were completely inaccessible, they ushered the security guards to remove me from the restaurant for simply wanting to use the toilet.
Liam is a member of the Crohn’s and Colitis UK charity “Fighting Inflammatory Bowel Disease ‘Together’”: “The charity issued me with an urgent toilet access card to be used in times of needs. The card reads “CAN’T WAIT. PLEASE HELP – THE HOLDER OF THIS CARD HAS INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE AND NEEDS TO USE YOUR TOILET FACILITIES URGENTLY. THANK YOU” I also hold a RADAR key that allows access to locked disabled toilet facilities in the UK.
“My “invisible illness” is debilitating, I worry about losing control of my body and the embarrassment it could cause and despite being such a ruthless illness, the anxiety of not being able to get to a toilet on time or worse can be more crippling than suffering from Crohn’s itself.
“On this occasion, for the first time, I felt this embarrassment. I was mortified that a company as large as McDonalds could be so uneducated about a disease that is rapidly becoming more prominent and heard of. I wonder how another human being could do something as to refuse someone in desperate need the right to use a toilet that was already numb with embarrassment to ask in the first place. That place in my mind is somewhere I never wish to venture to again and similarly, neither is the McDonalds restaurant.”
“I was well within my rights to seek the aid of the disabled toilet, some people or organisations like employers, shops, local authorities and schools must take positive steps to remove the barriers that could be faced because of disabilities, both visible and invisible. The Equality Act 2010 calls this the duty to make reasonable adjustments. The Equality Act 2010 says reasonable adjustments, such as access to toilets, must be made to accommodate someone if they’re disabled.
“To me this feels like a setback, when Olympic swimmers Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Kathleen Baker both won silver medals at Rio 2016 this week, raising invaluable awareness for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, as well as one of the UK’s big four supermarkets made a fundamental move to help people in the UK living with the condition. ASDA, the UK’s 3rd largest retailer has introduced a new accessible toilet sign in over 400 stores nationwide, and in doing so has drawn welcome attention to the truth that ‘not every disability is visible’ – something that this particular McDonalds should take note of.
Liam is going to take his complaint further with McDonalds and Kirklees Council.
A McDonald’s spokesman said: “We would like to apologise for any embarrassment or upset caused to Mr Seacombe and encourage him to get in contact with our Customer Services team.”
Crohn’s Disease affects at least 115,000 people in the UK and millions more worldwide.
After the incident, Liam says he was “visibly shaking”. He “went back to Camel Club as a last resort as I was becoming more and more in pain, I explained to a bouncer at the door and he let me back in to use their facilities, after that we went back home, where I was comforted by friends.”
He said: “The incident made me feel unsafe, I had chosen this town as my place of study and I put so much trust into it to accommodate my illness. I also felt rather angry and humiliated that I was removed, I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn’t have reached the toilet facility in time, nor do I feel welcome in this particular chain.”