It was supposed to be a “happy” meal at an Elk Grove, California McDonald’s for a group of mentally challenged adults, but what they found was a bit of a letdown when they were told they had to leave in what some are characterizing as a case of discrimination.
Constance Gastinell, who works with developmentally disabled adults through programs focused on integrating them into the community, regularly takes her charges on outings to the Elk Grove Blvd. McDonald’s, but this time she says the owner made a personal appearance to kick them out himself. “He came in and he said, ‘well you guys can’t eat here. You have to leave.”
Gastinell says that he asserted that they could not be there because they were “conducting business,” a claim she wholeheartedly refutes. “We weren’t conducting business,” she told News 10, “We came in to eat. We had no paperwork. We had money to buy.”
The owners, Dennis and Vicki Caldwell, say that the group of mentally challenged individuals was “disruptive,” and that “this recent situation involved a food fight.” The Caldwells, showing no compassion for their guests’ difficulties, added that this was not the first time such an incident had occurred.
Gastinell says that there was no food fight as the owners claim in defense of their actions, and that her group was well-behaved. She says that she has no plans to bring her clients to that particular establishment, but that she will continue to defend them. “When you see them hurt, it hurts you,” she said, “That’s why it’s personal.”