When Kayla Hanna, from Belfast, Ireland, went to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in 2016, she wasn’t expecting any trouble. Kayla has type 1 diabetes, and she was aware that the event would have a no outside drinks policy, but she’d been to similar events before with her bottle of Lucozade (a sports drink popular in the United Kingdom). She says she always has a bottle of the glucose-based drink handy in case of low blood sugar, and event staff have always been accommodating.
But that was not the case in the summer of 2016. Her drink was confiscated, so she tried to explain to the event staff that she needed the Lucozade in case of low blood sugar due to her diabetes. Kayla showed the security guard her diabetes tattoo, which is clearly a medical alert tattoo.
The security guard told her that anyone could have a tattoo, so Kayla obligingly displayed her insulin pack and glucose meter. But after consulting with another staff member, the guard told Kayla that the event had a strict policy and she would not be allowed to carry her drink.
Kayla decided to still attend the concert, but she couldn’t enjoy it as she’d wanted. She said later that she’d been “very anxious and upset” during the show, and she’d stood away from the stage and away from her friends, worrying about her blood sugar.
In the resulting court case, resolved in 2018, a judge ruled that Kayla had been the victim of discrimination and awarded her £2,000 (about $2,600). The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland supported Kayla’s case and argued that the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 had been violated by the event staff’s behavior.
Senior legal officer at the Commission, Mary Kitson, said that the Disability Discrimination Act called for “reasonable adjustment provisions” for circumstances like Kayla’s at the concert. “In this case, the company should have made arrangements to ensure that Kayla could have accessed Lucozade during the concert if needed… That would have been a simple adjustment and would have met her medical needs,” she said.
The court ruled that the event company, Eventsec, had failed to provide that reasonable adjustment.
An Eventsec spokesperson said that the company was disappointed by the court’s decision, and that Kayla’s case was an isolated incident. “Our normal practice when implemented is in compliance with our duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Disability Discrimination Act,” the spokesperson said. Eventsec also wanted to remind concert attendees that Kayla had confirmed attending other concerts with no issues, and that they have a medical tent with trained staff on hand at all of their events.
Kayla, now 20, is happy that the issue has been resolved. “I really hope that, now this issue has been brought to light, it won’t happen again to me or other people who live with diabetes,” she said.
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.