Reported by CBS2’s Suraya Fadel
SUNLAND (CBSLA.com) — Melissa Alvarado is a proud mother of three and a manager at a grocery store bakery.
The Tujunga resident lost her left leg this past May after a severe fall and an infection.
“It’s been an up and down rollercoaster ride,” Alvarado told CBS’s Suraya Fadel.
The 43-year-old now depends on her walker to get around, and admits being disabled, for the first time, has been life-altering. And the last thing she ever imagined was being refused service because of her disability.
Alvarado went out with her daughter for a foot massage Thursday and said they were turned away within minutes.
“She kept staring at my leg,” Alvarado said.
“A place I’ve been to before when I had two legs and I get turned away, like, ‘No, no, no, get out.’”
The Sunland business would not talk on camera, but said the woman who turned Alvarado away was uncomfortable with providing service to what she thought was a post-surgery patient. She showed us this sign posted inside the shop, “We have the right to refuse service to anyone.”
“Refusing service to me was humiliating,” said Alvarado, adding, “They can have a sign but that doesn’t mean they can discriminate against people.”
Disability Rights California advocates said what unfolded at the small business was unacceptable and politically incorrect.
“It’s like any other civil rights violation. California law says you can’t discriminate against people on the basis of race, religion, sex and disability.”
Attorney Kevin Bayley told CBS2 that there have been strides made in accepting people with disabilities, but there’s still more education needed.
“We get calls regularly from people being turned away from different services based on disability,” Bayley said.
Alvarado hopes her story and courage to speak out serves as a wake-up call to business owners and employees: “Don’t discriminate. We are all equals, no matter how we look like or how we are.”