Earls’ “Albino Rhino” is officially extinct.
Earls Restaurants will take beer sold under the 25-year-old brand off the menu after a Vancouver woman with albinism filed a BC Human Rights Tribunal complaint against the chain in 2012. The same craft beer will still be sold, but just as “Rhino.”
Ikponwosa (I.K.) Ero, representing a group with the genetic condition that causes a lack of pigmentation in skin, hair and eyes and often blindness, accused the popular restaurant of discrimination based on physical disability and colour.
While Earls doesn’t agree with the complaint – the beer was named after the white rhinoceros and it didn’t occur to the restaurant that it would be associated with albinism or offend anyone – it will cull the “Albino” from the house brand by April 24.
“We feel this is a positive thing, a great time to refresh our iconic craft beer brand,” Earls spokeswoman Cate Simpson said.
The human rights complaint process taught the restaurant that people were “genuinely offended” by its marketing, as the rare condition results in “prejudice and exclusion in many areas of Canadian society,” according to a restaurant news release.
“Earls wishes all members of the public to feel welcome at our restaurants and, accordingly, we no longer feel it is appropriate to use the word ‘albino’ as part of our marketing.”
The complaint sparked online debate about political correctness gone amok, but “the only people who say that are people who don’t have albinism or a friend or a spouse or a child with albinism,” said Peter Ash, CEO of Under The Same Sun, an advocacy group for those with the disability.
“It would be like saying, let’s put in some Alzheimer appetizers, Down syndrome daiquiris or cerebral palsy cocktails,” he said. “That would offend anyone’s sensibilities.”
Since just 1 in 20,000 people have the medical condition, people often don’t understand the disability and the “evil” stigma, popularized in Hollywood films, that goes with it, he said.
His group is “very happy” with Earls’ decision. “This is all we wanted from the beginning.”