Woman claims store owner tried to kick her out because of her wheelchair

WATCH ABOVE: A Toronto woman alleges she was kicked out of a store because of her wheelchair. The store owner denies the incident. Christina Stevens reports.

TORONTO — A Toronto woman is speaking out about an incident where she said she was discriminated against because of her disability.

Caroline Mole said it happened when she went shopping last week at a store inside the Jane and Finch Mall.

Mole said she was making her way through Fashion 4 You when a woman who identified herself as the owner approached her.

“They said no, no, no you can’t come in here because of your wheelchair, we’ll bring the clothes out to you out in the main corridor of the mall,” said Mole.

Her best friend Marleen Ninaka was with her.

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“She was told you are not allowed in this store with this chair, you are going to damage everything, you are just in the way,” said Ninaka.

READ MORE: Toronto man alleges discrimination based on disability by mall owner RioCan

Mole and her friend said they were told the store was too crowded with merchandise for Mole to shop. Mole says when she refused to get out, staff tried to block her way and other customers were watching.

“My face was going red, I was so embarrassed,” she explained.

According to Mole, the argument escalated until she was finally allowed to make her purchase. But she says the damage was done.

Global News joined the pair for a trip to Fashion 4 You, with hidden cameras. The woman claimed she never told Mole to get out but did admit to a discussion with Ninaka.

“[I told her we] have no room for this stroller you know,” she said, while gesturing toward Mole’s wheelchair.
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Then she said it’s okay for Mole to go into part of the store, pointing to a wider aisle, not jammed with clothes.

When Global News returned for an interview, the woman again said she had not tried to kick Mole out.

She was asked if she understood she needed to allow wheelchairs in.

“People [don’t] understand,” she replied, multiple times.

She then denied she was the store owner even though she had identified herself as the owner earlier.

“The people, they don’t understand,” she repeated.

She did not clarify what those comments meant.

Under Ontario’s Human Rights Code business owners have the responsibility to make their sure their shops are accessible to everyone.

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READ MORE: Human rights complaints filed over alleged guide dog discrimination

“What business owners want to do is maximize accessibility and remove any barriers, that are usually easy to remove, so people can all do their shopping with dignity and independence,” said Janina Fogels, a lawyer with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre.

Mole said she was sharing her story to help all people with disabilities, because not everyone has the ability to speak for themselves.

“I take pride in being able to speak out for those with disabilities.”