A realtor and two-time Paralympian is speaking out after she said a potential client refused to work with her because she’s an amputee.
Last month, Michelle Salt, a realtor in Calgary, Canada, posted her experience on Facebook describing what transpired as she met a potential client for a showing. That client, Salt said, had initially contacted her through her website.
In her Facebook post, Salt wrote: “My heart hurts today. Recently, I went to show a house and when the client who was a lead through my website (hadn’t met yet), saw that I was an amputee, he drove away.”
“I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt but when I asked why he left, he said he prefers to work with someone without a disability,” Salt continued in her post. “Disability whaaa?! Half the time I forget I’m missing a leg.”
Salt told Fox News Digital in an email that after the man drove away, she waited five minutes and called her client, who confirmed that he was the man who drove away because he “preferred to not work with someone with a disability,” Salt said.
Salt said she told the man that she was “sorry he feels that way and all the best in the future.”
“I was shocked as me being an amputee does not affect my ability to do my job whatsoever,” she told Fox. “I called my boyfriend right after and couldn’t believe what had just happened. As a retired Paralympian, I’m used to my uniqueness being celebrated and appreciated. To have someone not give me a chance was disheartening.”
She added: “I have never directly dealt with this kind of discrimination. The people around me know that I work hard and love what I do so this was tough.”
Salt lost her leg in a motorcycle accident in 2011. She told Fox she was 26 at the time and before that, she “also had a lack of understanding of what amputees or anyone living with a disability, were capable of.”
In 2014, Salt competed as a snowboarder Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, and again in the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Salt said she had “very positive and encouraging” responses after sharing her story with her 170,000 Facebook followers. She also heard from some people who said they have had similar experiences.
“As an amputee myself, I see this kind of behavior every now and again,” one Facebook user wrote.
Another commented, “Breaks my heart ‘cause I get it. I had someone recently tell me they could never date me because the fact that I’m an amputee ‘freaks them out.’ It was hard to hear and bugged me for a while, but I had to realize that’s just one person’s opinion and doesn’t necessarily reflect the thoughts of the majority of people.”
“Keep your chin up,” they added. “You’re amazing and already have inspired SO many…including me.”
Salt said she was raised in a small town and before her accident, had never met someone who used a wheelchair or had a prosthetic.
“It’s very possible this man also had an upbringing where he wasn’t able to see how technology and determination can give a person the tools to be successful at whatever they do,” she said of the client she encountered.
“As an athlete, I’ve been very lucky to witness so many great examples of this, but I’m aware not everyone has been exposed to the same diversity,”Salt added.
Salt told Fox that the experience with the client has reminded her that even though there have been many strides toward inclusion, “we still have work to do.”
“Me being an amputee does not limit me too much, but I also know that not every person I meet will see this,” Salt said.
On Facebook, Salt concluded her post by reminding people that she is a “knowledgeable, capable, hardworking and dedicated realtor.”
“I’d say I’m pretty darn able bodied and though yes, I don’t walk well and sometimes I struggle with things like stairs, I didn’t give up my career as a Realtor after my accident because I knew I could still do my job just as well as I did before,” she wrote.
Salt said she believes respect and education “can go a long way” in moving towards less discrimination.