A woman who uses a wheelchair says she was discriminated against at a Lee’s Summit nail salon.
But the Vietnamese-Americans who work at the Glo Nail Lounge say a language barrier contributed to the dispute.
Alisa Cain, who has cerebral palsy, made a Facebook post Saturday in which she said a nail technician at the salon refused to provide a full pedicure service because she was in a wheelchair.
“I could sense that my wheelchair was a problem and they did not want to deal with it,” Cain wrote on Facebook, adding that she eventually told staff she would take her business elsewhere.
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Jen Nguyen, a technician at the salon, said employees have accommodated those in wheelchairs in the past. And the dispute did not arise from discriminatory treatment but, rather, out of a lack of communication, she added.
The technician helping Cain immigrated here from Vietnam at the age of 21. His English is not perfect and may have contributed to the incident, Nguyen added.
“He has no ill intentions,” Nguyen said. “If he meant wrong, he wouldn’t have accepted her (for a pedicure in the first place). He just doesn’t know the right word selection to use.”
Cain, meanwhile, said she was ignored by the technician.
She said she tried to explain that she had brought along a friend to help with lifting her out of her wheelchair, but the technician instead asked if the pedicure could be given while she sat in her wheelchair.
Nguyen said this was done to avoid any potential liability that could result from moving Cain from her wheelchair into a pedicure chair.
“We were trying to create the most comfortable situation for her,” Nguyen said.
Still, she acknowledged the situation could have been handled better by employees at the salon.
“I explained to her (Cain) that we should have done better to communicate with her,” she said. “As a business, when you encounter (incidents) like that, that’s how you learn. Not every business is perfect.”
In an update to her post, Cain wrote that the salon reached out to her to apologize for the incident.
“I simply wanted to share my experience to raise awareness in the hopes that people become more … accepting,” she said.