‘It’s discrimination’: Bruce Skeen hits back at Blacktown Workers Club

Not frivolous: Bruce Skeen claims the Blacktown Workers Club discriminated against him by not taking seriously his request for a gluten-free meal. Picture: Isabella LettiniA Doonside resident has hit back at claims he was “frivolous” in suing the Blacktown Workers Club for discrimination.
Nanjing Night Net

Bruce Skeen’s claim for damages after the club reportedly failed to serve him a gluten-free meal in 2013 was dismissed by the Federal Circuit Court, with the judge calling it“frivolous”.

The ruling became fodder for a number of media outlets, with radio host John Laws, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Mail all reporting on the case.

Mr Skeen had sued the club for discrimination after the club mistakenly gave him a Christmas lunch without gluten-free gravy as requested.

Affected by coeliac disease since his diagnosis ten years ago, which affects the lining of the stomach and can lead to severe health problems, Mr Skeen had pre-ordered the meal.

When he later complained to club president Kay Kelly, he says he was treated fairly. But later when he went to pre-order a meal ahead of a second function,he became concerned there would be a repeat of the previous error

He asked to discuss the matter with staff.

During a conversation with the club’soperations managerthe 71-year-old said he gave the staffer a “firm” handshake.

It was after that exchange that he was banned from the club.

“I can’t hear very well –people think I’m yelling at them, but I just can’t hear my own voice properly,” Mr Skeen told the Sun.

According to the court reports, hehe was ejected from the building and temporarily suspended, but thenattempted to return three days later for an event had arranged months earlier.

When he refused to leave, he was escorted from the premises by police, the court heard.

As described by Judge Emmett, Mr Skeen then “embarked on a course of action, culminating in bringing him before this court, which far outweighs the trifling nature of [his] original complaint about the club’s failure to provide him with gluten-free gravy”.

Across the chain of events, Mr Skeen alleged he had been subjected to 25 counts of discrimination and victimisation because of his gluten intolerance at the hands of the Blacktown Workers Club under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

A member of the Blacktown Workers Club since the 1960s, he wasbeen devastated by the ban, saying he was treated “like a piece of rubbish.”

“I complained after I received a meal with no gluten at all –that is because it is against the law according to the Act,” he said.

Mr Skeen said the claims he was aggressive were incorrect, and that there was no CCTV footage to prove it.

An aged pensioner, Mr Skeen now fears he will be charged legal fees after the case was dismissed.

Blacktown Workers Club general manager Neal Vaughan said the club was satisfied with the decision of the court.

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