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Oklahoma mother says Muskogee Pizza Hut discriminated against son

An Oklahoma woman is claiming she and her son were discriminated against when they were asked to leave a Pizza Hut restaurant in Muskogee.
BY ANDREW KNITTLE aknittle@opubco.com Published: December 1, 2011

A Yukon mother says her son was discriminated against Tuesday when she and a group of homeschoolers were asked to leave a Pizza Hut restaurant in Muskogee.

Candi Smithson's 2-year-old son, Preston, has severe food allergies.

Celiac disease prevents him from eating anything containing gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Preston also is allergic to certain milk proteins, making things like butter and other dairy products hazardous to his health.

The group was in Muskogee on Tuesday to see replicas of the Niña and Pinta ships, which have been cruising the Arkansas River in recent weeks.

While in town, Smithson, another parent and four children, including Preston, stopped at Pizza Hut to have lunch.

“I had brought in a hamburger from McDonald's and some french fries,” she said. “About the only thing Preston can eat is the patty because McDonald's doesn't use fillers.”

But before her group could order, Smithson said a waitress informed her that the McDonald's items had to go.

“I explained why I was bringing in the food, but she said it didn't matter,” Smithson said.

“So, then I asked to speak to the manager.”

The manager, who couldn't be reached for comment on this story, wasn't sympathetic to the mother's situation.

“He basically said, ‘We can't have this food in here, so we're going to have to ask you to leave,'” Smithson said. “I was really shocked ... we bring food into restaurants all the time, and this has never happened before.”

Calls to Pizza Hut's corporate offices seeking comment on this story weren't returned.

Rights may have been violated

Smithson said the incident was much more than an inconvenience. She said it violated her son's rights as a person living with a disability.

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