MELISSA: On December 7th, a deaf woman named Bianca Marie Hoffmeister was enjoying shopping for LuLaRoe clothing through a Facebook Live video. That’s when Amber Jones, the seller of the clothing, discriminated against her because she’s deaf.
Bianca simply asked for Jones to show sizing tags on camera, since she could not hear them being called out on the video. Jones then made rude comments, while other shoppers worked to defend Bianca. Jones ended up banning her from the page. This is a clear ADA violation as Jones did not make any accommodations for Bianca’s needs.
We reached out to Bianca to talk with her about this experience.
MELISSA: How long have you been shopping from LuLaRoe?
BIANCA: About two years. I’ve always had a positive experience shopping. This just happened. It left me shocked. This is my favorite clothing line. Those clothes can fit me. You know, I’m plus size and I love clothes. I felt repulsed by this. You know? I don’t want to see this happen to other people. That.
MELISSA: Did you inform LuLaRoe of the incident?
MELISSA How did that go?
BIANCA: I emailed them. I kept calling them. I told them I was concerned about what happened. I didn’t want to see it happen again with people with disabilities - deaf, anybody. I would really appreciate to hear from them so we can provide feedback to improve the company such as audio, captions, anything that has accessibility. You know? So far I’ve heard nothing back! No emails, nothing!
MELISSA: What do you hope that LuLaRoe will do about this?
BIANCA: Honestly, I expected and envisioned that LuLaRoe would help and speak out. I wished that they would have addressed any concerns and acted on it-- not cover it up like nothing happened, because something did happen. Stand up for those with a disability, no matter who they are, they deserve to be included ALL THE TIME, not be shut out. That. Honestly, I’m taking action to file a lawsuit, possibly. We’ll see.
MELISSA: Yeah. This is clearly a form of discrimination, by refusing to type in your request.
BIANCA: I only asked her to show her the size of the shirt on the tag.
MELISSA: And she refused?
BIANCA: No, she refused to do it. I’ll explain what happened. I saw a dress and I really liked that dress. I commented asking if she wouldn’t mind showing the size. It was obvious she saw my comment and ignored it. It was clear as day. People typed in saying she’s deaf. Hearing people said turn up the volume. I was like, I can’t hear. People complained and had us banned from the page. I only asked a simple question to show the tag. That’s all. Simple. It would solve the problem. You know what I mean? She kept going and still ignored the request. She got upset that we kept commenting on her page and it clogged her live video. I didn’t see that happen at all, so there you have it.
MELISSA: What’s your perspective on her experience working with deaf customers and shunning them out?
BIANCA: I heard from other hearing people that this isn’t the first time it happened. Other deaf people experienced the same thing, too. It made me feel disappointed. Truly disappointed. Why aren’t you willing to acknowledge people’s complaints and do something about it to change? I was hoping for them to relieve some problems, but nothing happened. Nothing.
MELISSA: Amber faced backlash from her customers after this situation and later ended up posting an apology for her actions on her Facebook page, saying she’s shut down her public pages. She says she’s reached out to LuLaRoe to find ways to better serve deaf customers.
Do you feel that LuLaRoe should step up and say something to help people with disabilities? Share your thoughts.