It was over one year ago that I was at the Encore Beach Club, a well known club on the Las Vegas Strip, located inside the Wynn/Encore hotel, when I was discriminated against for food allergies for the first time in my life. If you never read about what happened, as it was over a year ago, CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY.
I have been to Vegas multiple times since then (and before then), and have gone to many large, well known clubs on the strip including Hakkasan, Wet Republic, Marquee and Omnia. Every time I go, they look through my bag, ask me about my medications, understand that I have a life-threatening condition, and have no issues with me entering.
In fact, Wet Republic is by far the most strict when it comes to entering a club on the strip. They do not allow anything in their club - they make people throw away gum, hand sanitizer, Advil, lipstick, does not matter. Yet, they allow me to enter with my EpiPens, Benadryl, prednisone, Claritin and inhaler. Every time I go, it's an ordeal of about 1 minute explaining the situation, and I enter. They have made me throw away gum, safe snacks, tissues - random things. But my medications? Never an issue.
Apparently, the Encore Beach Club though is not aware that food allergies are covered by the ADA (American Disabilities Act). They do not know that under the ADA, you only need to state your disability and accommodations are required to be made. Why am I sure they don't know this? Because one of the security guards told me to my face that "anaphylaxis is not a disability". In those exact words. Followed by the manager informing me that it is illegal for me to carry my EpiPen without it being in the box with the prescription that has my name on it (LOL).
I left the club crying that night, over a year ago. The security guards were laughing at me. Making jokes that if I wanted to contact their lawyers, their offices were right upstairs.
Well, I took their advice! I first called the head of security to enlighten him on the situation. I honestly thought that alone would solve the issue - how could his employees be acting in such a disgusting manner? Apparently, he said that this is the policy at the Wynn/Encore, and was not interested in speaking to me further.
It was hard to find a lawyer to take the case, I'm going to be honest. No one wants to sue a giant hotel with a large team of lawyers working 24/7 who deal with hundreds of lawsuits daily. But I was lucky to find the best lawyers in Nevada who took my case - lawyers who wanted to make a positive difference and stand up for those with disabilities and specifically food allergies.
They fought hard for over a year, back and forth with the Wynn. After countless negotiations, letters, statements and time, the Wynn settled and was forced to come up with a new policy in how to manage guests with food allergies.
The new policy states that any person who comes to the Encore Beach Club and declares that they have food allergies, will be allowed to enter the club with all of their medications. They will not need to show any proof of the condition. EpiPens, or any type of similar epinephrine syringe, will be allowed to be carried by the person at all times. All other medications, as long as they are clearly labeled, will be stored in a locker inside the club. The person will have access to the locker at all times.
The Wynn really should be even more understanding and allow the guests with food allergies to keep all medications on them at all times, just like EVERY SINGLE OTHER CLUB on the strip does, but at the end of the day, every step forward is another step in the right direction.
The reason I felt okay with this policy change is because in reality, if you are having a life-threatening allergic reaction, epinephrine should be administered immediately over any other medication, and the person is allowed to have their epinephrine on them at all times versus in the locker.
Personally, my anaphylaxis plan specifically states to take all the other medications that I listed above, but epinephrine would be first anyways and is the most important during an anaphylactic reaction, so I agreed to this first step in change of policy.
I am not the only person that has had this experience of discrimination at the Encore Beach Club, so I am confident that their policies will be further adjusted in the near future.
In the meantime, I am returning to the Encore Beach Club, this weekend, to personally ensure that the new policy has been put into place and is being executed properly.
Stay updated by following my weekend in Las Vegas on my Instagram story!
Has something similar happened to you at the Wynn/Encore?
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org