Chemotherapy patient asked to leave entertainment venue in Indiana

Posted at 10:34 PM, Apr 08, 2015
and last updated 2019-03-25 15:56:57-04

An Indiana woman celebrating the end of her chemotherapy treatment was turned away from an entertainment center because of what she was wearing.

Rachel Bruno met her family Saturday afternoon at Latitude 360, which features movies, bowling, dining and comedy acts. It was one of her first outings since finishing chemotherapy on April 1, but it wasn't long before the celebration was cut short.

Doctors diagnosed the 33-year-old with cancer for a second time after she beat it once in 2008. Bruno is currently bald from the chemo treatments and almost always wears a winter cap to cover her head.

Latitude 360 employees believed Bruno’s knitted hat was in violation of the company's dress code that prohibits skullcaps, bandanas, brimless hats and stocking caps. She was asked to leave.

"I was devastated. I was disappointed because at that point, my heart actually hurt for her. Because it's not her fault that she's had to deal with cancer a second time. When you try to go outside to have a few moments of enjoyment to try to feel better, and here you are turned away … it's not fair," Bruno's sister Alicia Murray said Wednesday.

Bruno took matters into her own hands and posted her story on Facebook Saturday evening. It wasn’t long before the business was bombarded with comments and feedback.

An executive with Latitude 360 has since apologized about what he calls an embarrassing mistake. He said while employees were following policy, they got it wrong in this case.

"A public apology would be nice, it was publicly humiliating because you feel like you don't know who all is listening … I was embarrassed to be asked to leave based on a hat," Bruno said.

Bruno received a public apology later Wednesday evening. Kyle Brown, the director of venue oversight, sent RTV6 a copy of the apology he sent to Bruno:

Rachel, I wanted to reach out and sincerely apologize for the way you were treated the other night at our Indianapolis venue. It is unfortunate that our door greeters and managers decided to enforce our dress code under your current condition. They have been spoken to and they know now that in special circumstances like yours that the dress code can be interpreted as to allow special considerations. Please don't judge our entire company on the actions of a few. We all make poor judgment calls from time to time in our life and a poor judgment call was made with you Rachel. The President of our company and our graphic designer who works 3 doors down from me in Jacksonville have both beat cancer and I realize what they went through. Our company was very supportive and sensitive to their needs and those of their families. Our company has supported many many charitable organizations from cancer to autism to combat veterans. If there is anything I can do to make you feel better, don't hesitate to call me.