Lawsuit: Mother and teen son with autism kicked out of movie theater after mother took son into women’s restroom

The lawsuit was filed earlier this week. It states that Christine Gallinaro and her 15-year-old son were at the Cinemark Theater in Hazlet when the incident occurred.

Matt Trapani and Naomi Yané

Jul 27, 2023, 2:19 AM

Updated 306 days ago

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A Holmdel mother is suing her neighborhood movie theater. She says she and her son who has autism were discriminated against and kicked out of the theater after she took him to the women’s restroom.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this week. It states that Christine Gallinaro and her 15-year-old son were at the Cinemark Theater in Hazlet when the incident occurred. They were asked to leave after she helped her son, who is autistic and nonverbal, use the women’s restroom.
The incident happened on June 16. Gallinaro says she and her son stepped out of the theater during the previews to use the restroom.
“He is unable to go to the bathroom by himself. It’s not a safe situation. He can’t do it. This particular theater doesn’t have a family restroom,” says family attorney Armen McOmber. “There’s no other option. My client, his mother, reasonably decided that she would take him to the women’s room.”
The lawsuit alleges that the movie theater manager angrily approached Gallinaro and her son in the restroom and shouted discriminatory remarks, including that a “grown” man should not be in the women’s restroom.
“This wasn’t a man sneaking into the women’s restroom for anything or some objectionable purpose. This was a kid trying to go to the bathroom,” says McOmber.
The lawsuit also alleges that during the exchange, the manager stated, “This [referring to the women’s restroom] is not a transgender bathroom.”
“What they did was unlawful. This was a person who had no other option but to use this particular facility. It’s not a safe or good situation to send him into the men’s room alone…she took the option that was available to her on behalf of her son,” the attorney says.
Hazlet police were also called.
New Jersey has a law against discrimination. It protects people who have disabilities using public places. This is the ground the lawsuit is based on.
McOmber says he hopes this lawsuit will set a precedent for the future so other families with children who have disabilities won’t have the same experience.
News 12 New Jersey reached out to Cinemark, but a spokesperson refused to comment on the lawsuit.


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