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PRESS RELEASE
4-17-12

Wendy’s Franchisee Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Killeen Fast-Food  Restaurant Refused to Hire Hearing-Impaired Applicant Despite His  Qualifications, Federal Agency Charges

DALLAS —  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced today that it has  filed suit against CTW L.L.C., a Wendy’s franchisee, for denying employment to  a hearing-impaired applicant because of his disability in violation federal  law.

The EEOC  charges in its suit, Case No. 6:12-CV-00091-WSS in U.S. District Court for the  Western District of Texas, Waco Division, that the general manager of a Killeen,  Texas Wendy’s refused to hire Michael Harrison, Jr. for a cooker position,  despite his qualifications and experience, upon learning that Harrison is  hearing-impaired.

According to the EEOC, Harrison,  who had previously worked for a different fast-food franchise for over two  years, was denied hire by the general manager.  Harrison said that after successfully  interviewing with the Wendy’s shift manager, he attempted to complete the  interview process by interviewing with Wendy’s general manager via Texas Relay,  a telephonic system utilized by people with hearing impairments. Harrison’s told  the EEOC that during the call he was told by the general manager that “there is  really no place for someone we cannot communicate with.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA) prohibits disability discrimination and requires employers to make  reasonable accommodations to employees’ and applicants’ disabilities as long as  this does not pose an undue hardship.

“In these tough economic times,  opportunities for employment are at a premium,” said Robert A. Canino, regional  attorney for the EEOC’s Dallas District Office.  “Here, Mr. Harrison had the work experience necessary to do the job and  was prepared to contribute his solid work ethic and skills again to the food  retail business, but was denied the chance to do so on irrelevant and unlawful  grounds.”

The EEOC  seeks injunctive relief, including the formulation of policies to prevent and  correct disability discrimination. The  suit also seeks lost wages and compensatory damages for Harrison  and punitive damages against CTW L.L.C. The  EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement  through its conciliation process.

“The ADA requires companies to  treat disabled persons the same as all other applicants for a job," said  Joel Clark, trial attorney for the EEOC.  “This company automatically refused to consider Mr. Harrison for  employment solely because of his hearing impairment. Wendy’s should not have relied on its own negative,  generalized assumptions about his ability to communicate.”

The  EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is  available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.