Woman with cerebral palsy turned away from Orange Park Mall nail salon

Mall shares outrage over situation

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A post on Facebook has gone viral after a woman claims she was turned away from Nails Spa & Beyond at the Orange Park Mall due to having a disability. 

Jill Medaris McElyea, the woman's mother, wrote about the incident on Facebook Wednesday. 

"So Bri’s new caregiver, Anna, took Bri to the Orange Park Mall and went to this nail salon to get Bri’s nails done. They both left in tears after being turned away. They were told Bri would not be allowed to sit in their spa chairs and they couldn’t do her nails. Anna explained she would hold Bri’s hands open and that she gets her nails done all the time. Didn’t matter. They were turned away." 

Bri McElyea has cerebral palsy, which affects a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture. 

Bri and her caregiver left the mall and went to Nail Care & Spa in Fleming Island, where they successfully got her nails done. 

"This is what accessible nail salons look like! The girl likes to be pampered!" McElyea said. 

McElyea told News4Jax she received a phone call from the Orange Park Malls marketing director, who said they were not happy with how Bri and Anna were treated. They said they would be speaking with the owners of the nail salon. 

They also offered a gift certificate for a different nail salon and a gift certificate for Bri’s favorite store.

Mall management also added they would love for Bri and her family to help participate in a training event for mall personnel. McElyea told News4Jax they are excited to educate and help train employees. 

Bri's parents would like for every store in the mall to go through sensitivity training so this does not happen again. 

The Marketing Director and owner of the Orange Park Mall said: 

“Nails Spa and Beyond has offered complimentary services for Bri, her mother and caregiver.  Orange Park Mall will also be providing Bri a gift card to her favorite store,” Chelsea Commodari, Marketing Director of Orange Park Mall, said. 

“I’m proud of the way our Orange Park management team responded to this isolated incident. Marketing Director Chelsea Commodari and General Manager Randy Bowman focus every day on providing a positive experience for guests. They plan to help educate our tenant partners so that they can better serve our guests in the future,” Greg Fleser, Regional Vice President of Washington Prime Group and the owner of Orange Park Mall, said. 

About the Author:

Carianne Luter is an Award-Winning Digital Media and Engagement Manager for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She won "Best Social Media Engagement Strategy" during the Local Media Association 2022 Digital Innovation Awards. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a communication degree.