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Being mistaken for drunk

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Last updated 25th August 2020.

A teetotal customer with a stammer was initially refused a coffee at a pub, because staff thought he was drunk.

His slurring was due to a stammer. He tried to explain this but staff disagreed.

The manager only approved the order after a friend stepped in and confirmed he had a stammer.

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Stammerer refused service because pub staff thought he was drunk (thesun.co.uk), 20th March 2012.


This could be unlawful as ‘discrimination arising from disability’ (s.15 EqA), or perhaps harassment. The pub would have a defence to s.15 if it showed it did not know, and could not reasonably have been expected to know, that he had the disability. However the pub is unlikely to have had this defence for continuing to refuse service after the customer explained he had a stammer.

The Court of Appeal in City of York Council v Grosset discussed an example of a pub refusing to serve due to slurred speech.

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