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Prospective Audience Member Accuses "Dr. Phil" Of Discrimination
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 6, 2004

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA--Dr. Phil McGraw's popular television show is the focus of discrimination allegations again, this time from a prospective audience member who decided not to attend a taping session because of how he was treated.

The Associated Press reported Friday that Neal David Sutz, a paralegal student from Mesa, Arizona has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the "Dr. Phil" show and Paramount Domestic Television, the company that produces the program.

Sutz claimed in his suit that he planned to attend a taping session of the show last year, when he and other prospective audience members were asked by a program representative to sign a form swearing that they did not have a mental illness or were not receiving psychiatric treatment.

Sutz disclosed to the show's staff that he has a history of bipolar disorder. The staff then told him that he could watch the taping of the show, as long as he didn't talk to McGraw or try to participate in the show. Sutz declined.

These actions "clearly and brazenly disregarded" Sutz' rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, his suit contends.

Sutz claimed that he experienced mental and emotional anguish because of the show's actions, and sought an injunction to "permanently assure no further such discrimination targeted at the disabled".

He has also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, asking for help in filing a separate suit for compensatory and punitive damages not allowed under the ADA.

Last November, Angela Gagarro wrote in a piece for the Ragged Edge Magazine about her experience while attending a taping of "Dr. Phil" with a friend who uses canes to get around.

In Gagarro's case, program staff tried to usher her friend to a "special" section set up for audience members with physical disabilities -- separate from everyone else.

"It's an entirely different spin for us on discrimination," she wrote. "'Get over in your special section where you belong, you disabled person!'"

Related:
"My Dr. Phil Nightmare" (Ragged Edge Magazine)

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