Handicapped woman drops White Castle complaint

  • December 5, 2009 - 12:25 AM

Ariel Wade's fight for her right to a late-night hamburger has ended in surrender.

In June, the White Castle on Rice Street in St. Paul refused to serve Wade when she rolled up to the drive-through in an electric mobility scooter. It was just after midnight and that was the only part of the restaurant open at the time. "Madder than fish grease" over the incident, Wade complained to the state Department of Human Rights, saying White Castle was discriminating against the disabled.

White Castle maintained that its staff was only trying to protect Wade from getting hit by a car. In October, the human rights department sided with the burger chain and concluded the refusal of service didn't amount to discrimination. Then, last month, the lawyer who represented Wade in her complaint informed her that his organization, the Minnesota Disability Law Center, didn't have the resources for the next step -- a private lawsuit against White Castle.

After Whistleblower first described Wade's situation last summer, she became such a celebrity in St. Paul that she doesn't go out much anymore, she said. "I can't go anywhere without being called the White Castle lady," she said.

"Some people have been supportive about it," she said. "Others have made me a mockery and tell me that I'm taking advantage of the system, because I'm handicapped and that I'm trying to receive special services. No, I'm just wanting a business to abide by the laws."

For now, the state has concluded no laws were broken. So Wade said last week she has decided to "let this sleeping dog lie."


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