Earls Restaurants Ltd. has decided to remove the word “albino” from all of its products following a human rights complaint by a group of people with albinism.
On behalf of the group, Ikponwosa Ero filed the complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal early last year.
Members of the group say the use of the word albino was derogatory and offensive.
“It wouldn’t be conscionable in our society to have cerebral palsy cocktails or down syndrome daiquiris, and so in the same light we thought why is it acceptable to take a genetic medical condition affecting people and name menu products after it?” explained Peter Sun, CEO of Under The Same Sun, an organization aimed at improving the lives of persons with albinism.
Albinism is a rare, genetic condition that affects approximately 1 in 20,000 people in Canada. Those with the condition suffer from a lack of melanin production, which results in a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes.
Earls, which opened its first restaurant in Edmonton in 1982, created the Albino Rhino brand 25 years ago. It was named after the white rhinoceros.
In a statement released Friday, Earls said while it did not agree with the complaint, the company did not intend to offend anyone.
“It did not occur to us that the name would be associated with albinism,” Earls stated. “We do not believe the use of the word “albino” reflects any intention to discriminate against persons with albinism. We have learned from participating in the human rights complaint process, however, that many persons with albinism are genuinely offended and feel that their dignity is negatively impacted by the use of the word “albino” in our marketing.”
Ash says the group is extremely pleased with the decision Earls has made.
“We’re very pleased that Earls has elected to make the moves they have, that’s what we asked for at the very beginning of the process,” he said. “They clearly acknowledge that people with albinism are a stigmatized group in Canadian society, and that this does negatively impact their dignity.”
The word albino will be removed from all Earls marketing and products across Canada and the United States by April 24.