On 11 December 2015, Robert Skeen attended a function at Blacktown Workers’ Club for which he had pre-ordered a gluten free meal and a gluten free dessert. He wasn’t provided with gluten free gravy for his meal. This set in train a series of unfortunate events which resulted in Mr Skeen first being suspended and then expelled from the Club for aggressive behaviour. It also resulted in a claim (under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)) in the Federal Circuit Court that, by not providing him with gluten-free gravy, the Club had discriminated against him by reason of his coeliac disease.
The proceedings were ultimately summarily dismissed, but there is a degree of frustration evident from her Honour’s judgment:
- Mr Skeen is an elderly gentleman who ….. has hearing problems, although he is not deaf. However, those hearing problems required the use of loud microphones and resulted in many interruptions by Mr Skeen
- I accept that Mr Skeen has worked hard all his life in jobs with some level of responsibility. However, Mr Skeen no longer appears to have the ability to hear and listen to matters with which he does not agree. He has embarked on a course of action, culminating in bringing him before this Court, which far outweighs the trifling nature of Mr Skeen’s original complaint about the Club’s failure to provide him with gluten-free gravy.
Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph.