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'We Are All Normal': Burger Shop Hits Back After Customer's Thoughtless Insult

A business that employs people with Tourette's and Asperger's has hit back at a customer who made an insensitive comment to staff.

Now the burger bar owner is using the experience to encourage more employers to be inclusive when hiring.

Michael Pulvirenti claims a customer's order to swap out one type of sauce for another could not have been delayed more than five minutes when he received a remark which stuck with him long after the disgruntled patron had left.

"You should consider hiring normal people," the customer said, Pulvirenti claimed.

Of the nine people who work at Burger PL8, five experience conditions ranging from anxiety to Asperger's to Tourette's syndrome.

Days later and with the altercation still on his mind, Pulvirenti decided, with the approval of his staff, to make a Facebook post in which he revealed why he believes that sometimes, the customer is simply not right.

"I think it's time you should know that we are an INCLUSIVITY BUSINESS," his post on PL8 Jindalee's Facebook page said.

"Meaning some of my team members are dealing with lifetime adversities".

"Normal people.........really what is normal? I teach my children that we ARE ALL NORMAL. My crew (the so called not normal) have more guts, determination, personally and work ethics than most."

Bree Hall, who has anxiety and non-epileptic dissociative seizures, works at Burger Pl8. She said her boss Pulvirenti  made her feel included in the workplace, after having bad experiences in the industry before.

"In this workplace, it's really awesome to have everyone around you who can help you with it, especially having other staff members suffering the same thing," Hall told 10 News First.

"Coming to work and actually having a nice team and having friends and feeling supportive when you're working is awesome".

Pulvirenti believe there is no perfect example of what 'normal' is and is using their experience to encourage other business-owners to follow hiring practices that promote inclusiveness.

"It's just a matter of calming them down and telling them it's OK to make mistakes," he told 10 News First.

READ MORE: A Big-Hearted Cafe Is Serving Brunch With A Side Order Of Social Conscience

He said while it may take a bit longer to train people who are facing some form of mental or physical challenge, they have an "absolutely amazing" work ethic.

"They're all my favourites," he said.

"Do it, embrace them because they are the best staff".

It's now been a month since Pulvirenti first made the post, which he said was in part made in hope the customer in question would see the message and rethink his comments.

But the owner said he also felt it was time to let all of his customers know about the experiences of some of his staff, and believes his crew have become more relaxed as a result.

Michael Pulvarenti believes his experience shows the customer isn't always right. Image: 10 News First

"The moment I clicked post, I just felt the weight come off," he told 10 News First.

"The overwhelming support from the general public was incredible".

He said he even feels sorry for the customer that he has that opinion of people, and said it was important people remember that "silly" comments can effect not just people you're speaking to but the broader public as well.

Featured Image: 10 News First

Contact the author: vgerova@networkten.com.au