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Did Spa Discriminate Against Mom and Baby?

A spa is not a childcare facility

Newsflash: moms need to get a life, too. And as paying customers, don't we deserve to be served like everyone else? A New Brunswick mom is fighting for her right to a spa treatment, after she was turned away for bringing her baby with her.

Sacha DeWolfe called a human rights failure when staff at Fredericton's Avalon Spa refused to serve her with her infant in tow.

While on maternity leave, the 37 year-old brought her five month-old baby, who was asleep in a car seat at the time, to her eyebrow waxing appointment.

"I was mistakenly under the impression, I guess, that I could bring my child to a service and expect to be served," said DeWolfe, who is now pushing to have the province's legislation amended to include discrimination against children.

The spa stands by its decision to ban children from the premises. Initially, Avalon owner Peggy Jewett cited safety concerns as the primary reason for the exclusion.

"There's hot wax, there's sharp tweezers, there's a whole bunch of things," said Jewett. "Even when you're doing a pedicure and you clip a nail, like, nails fly. I mean, we've had people get nails in their eyes. You know, things happen. It's a legit safety thing."

But it seems the tune changes for paying customers. If children of a certain age (usually 12 and up) are allowed as customers when accompanied by an adult, then those safety concerns can't be all that "legit." And presumably those safety concerns would apply to adults, too.

The real issue is other customers. People go to the spa to relax, after all. Music plays softly; lights are dimmed. In fact, many women go for a break from their own children.

Part of what they are paying for, claims Jewett, is a "quiet service," such as a facial or massage. "I would offend our other clients if somebody had a baby up there crying, or a two-year-old running around."

Childcare can be difficult to swing for many moms. Let's face it, though, some businesses just aren't suitable environments for babies and young children. In such situations the exclusion is not discriminatory, as it was in this case; it has everything to do with the nature of the business in question.

The fact is, while a mom is having hot wax poured on her or having her nails painted, she's not in a position to actively tend to her child. And if she is not able to actively tend to her kid, then her kid probably shouldn't be there. A spa is not a childcare facility, nor should we expect it to be.  

Some spas offer specific times and days when moms can bring in young children, which is awesome. It's up to parents to check first and take their business to a spa that serves their needs - not vice-versa.

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