Wheelchair user sues dance company over banning him from using dance floor

Fred Walden says he feels humiliated by claims his wheelchair damaged the dancefloor 

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Tuesday 29 November 2016 10:59
Comments
Related video: Tory candidate says disabled people should learn less because they don't understand money
Related video: Tory candidate says disabled people should learn less because they don't understand money

A disabled dancer is suing a company for discriminating against the use of his wheelchair, after he was allegedly told it was damaging the dancefloor.

Fred Walden, 54, told the BBC he was banned from a Jive Addiction event last October when staff said his wheelchair was causing damage to the floor.

“I was taken to an area of the dance floor I hadn’t been on and shown a black scuff mark which rubbed off easily,” he said, adding that he explained to the staff member that his wheelchair had been fitted with specially designed sports tyres that do not leave marks.

Mr Walden dances with able-bodied partners and said he felt angry and embarrassed due to the way he was treated.

He is suing Jive Addiction for discrimination under the Equality Act.

The company has been contacted by The Independent but has not yet returned a request for comment. In the company’s legal defence, seen by the BBC, it denied it had discriminated against Mr Walden and stated that Jive Addiction’s policy does not allow any dancer to damage the floor with any kind of object.

Mr Walden’s solicitor, Chris Fry from Unity Law, said that having a policy that treats everyone the same shows a “fundamental misunderstanding” of the Equality Act if a company beleives such a policy is compliant with legislation.

“If you have a wheelchair policy which says wheelchair users are not allowed on a dance floor, then essentially you are preventing disabled people from participating in this activity,” he told the broadcaster.

Liz Sayce, chief executive, Disability Rights UK, told The Independent that it is important for companies to check through their policies to ensure they do not inadvertently discriminate against disabled people.

“Disabled people rightly expect to participate in activities from dancing to cinema to sports and it is in the interest of companies to welcome everybody. Blanket 0policies can be discriminatory if they are not thought through for the effect they might have on disabled people.

“It is important for companies to check through their policies to ensure they don’t inadvertently discriminate against disabled people – the key is to see whether a solution can be found, and if it can, the company needs to follow it.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in