Man fails to sue Sydney restaurant because it didn’t serve him gluten-free gravy

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A Sydney man has failed in his bid to sue a restaurant because it did not provide him with gluten-free gravy.

Bruce Skeen attended a function at the Blacktown Workers Club in December 2013 after pre-ordering a gluten-free meal, according to Federal Circuit Court documents.

However, while Skeen did receive his roast dinner, it did not come with gluten-free gravy.

Skeen claimed he pre-ordered gluten-free gravy when he ordered his main meal and dessert, however this fact is disputed by the Blacktown Workers Club.

After Skeen complained, staff were unable to find any gluten-free gravy for him.

The man took the matter to the Federal Circuit Court, claiming the club discriminated against him for having coeliac disease.

The court heard Skeen became “angry and disruptive” when he learnt he was unable to eat his meal with gluten-free gravy, however, the Blacktown Workers Club did not take any disciplinary action in relation to his behaviour.

Later that month Skeen attended the club again to place an order for a gluten-free meal for a New Year’s Eve function.

The court heard evidence that he later became “physically and verbally aggressive” towards staff and, as a result, he was temporarily suspended from the club.

A few days before Christmas Skeen attempted to re-enter the premises and refused to comply with requests from staff that he leave.

In her judgment, Judge Sylvia Emmett said the applicant “no longer appears to have the ability to hear and listen to matters with which he does not agree”.

The judge also described Skeen’s claim as “frivolous” and with very little prospect of success.

As a result, the case was dismissed.

Melissa Sinopoli, founder of LawyerQuote, told SmartCompany businesses are allowed to decide what food they put on their menus.

However, Sinopoli points out businesses cannot discriminate against any person on the basis of race, religion, gender, age or disability.

“Businesses must ensure they do not discriminate, including in the hiring of employees,” Sinopoli says.

“In relation to restaurants, they are not obligated to cater to dietary requirements and have the discretion to decide what is put on their menu.

“This case reflects the growing litigations mindset in our community where people are aggressively voicing their smallest of grievances both publicly through social media and the court system.”

SmartCompany contacted Blacktown Workers Club but did not received a response prior to publication.

SmartCompany was unable to contact Bruce Skeen for comment.


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