PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Words can often cut like a knife and be just as painful, especially when referring to people with disabilities.
“There is just no reason to use the ‘r’ word because it is highly offensive,” said Crista Miller, a local mom.
Miller is talking about the words “retarded” or “retard.” She and her boyfriend, Bruce Casper, have a 16-month-old son who has Down syndrome.
The couple claims two female co-workers at Casper’s former job at the Chili’s restaurant at Pittsburgh Mills called Casper a “retard.”
“He came home from work every night upset because he was sick of hearing it. He did bring it up to management,” said Miller.
But according to the family, management told him he could either tolerate the word, or leave. So Casper left. The couple says the women used the word repeatedly for months.
Back in 2007, a national campaign got under way.
Nancy Murray, the president of Arc of Greater Pittsburgh and a member Achieva, says the campaign aims to end the use of those words.
“The ‘r-word’ campaign started a few years ago by the Special Olympics. It’s an international campaign to rid the vocabulary of the word. Mental retardation is now called intellectually disabled,” said Murray.
Murray told KDKA’s Brenda Waters she knows firsthand how that single word can hurt.
“I, myself, have children with Down syndrome, so I can put myself in that place and it just hurts,” said Murray. “It hurts right down to the core when you hear someone use those words.”
Meanwhile, Casper has been offered another job with Chili’s at another location, but he decided against it saying he would not feel comfortable. He is now in the process of hiring an attorney.