Mother claims IHOP discriminated against her armless 3-year-old

Credit: Scott Olson

Credit: Scott Olson

A mother has claimed that her son faced discrimination at an IHOP restaurant when a manager told them the boy was not allowed to sit on the table to eat. The boy was born without arms, and has been taught in physical therapy to sit on a table and eat with his feet.

Alexis Bancroft said she took her son William, 3, to the restaurant to eat, but was told by a manager that he could not sit on the table and could not touch the syrup dispensers with his feet, according to KARK.

"All he wanted was some pancakes," Bancroft told KARK. "When we got there, I carried him in, took him to the bathroom and washed his feet so he could eat. I asked (the general manager), 'Do you ask all of your customers if they washed their hands before they touch them (syrup containers)?'"

The family left the restaurant. Bancroft said the manager later apologized, saying it was all a misunderstanding. “I would never do that to your son, intentionally or otherwise. That’s not what I was trying to do.”

Bancroft told KARK that the next day her son tried to sit in a chair to eat, "which he really can't do," and the manager's apology can't take away the experience.

“My son can't get that back," she said.

William has since gone back to eating at his table, according to KARK. And IHOP said it will work to retrain employees at that location.

“IHOP and our franchisees do not tolerate actions that are or allude to discrimination of any type,” the restaurant said in a statement. “The franchisee at this location has been in touch with the guest to express his sincerest apologies and will continue to be in communication with her to resolve the issue. Additionally, the franchise will also retrain his team members to ensure IHOP’s level of service, particularly regarding guests with disabilities, is provided to all. For 60 years, IHOP and our franchisees have strived to create a warm and hospitable dining experience for all guests, and this incident is not reflective of that ongoing commitment.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story indicated the family was asked to leave the restaurant. A statement from IHOP says the family left on their own accord. 

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