EEOC Says Coffee Company Refused to Hire Applicant Because of His MS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A Starbucks store in Russellville, Ark., will pay $80,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC’s suit, (Civil Action No. 4:09-CV-0715, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, at Little Rock), charged that Starbucks failed to hire Chuck Hannay because of his multiple sclerosis. According to the EEOC, Hannay applied for one of six open barista positions but was never contacted for an interview. EEOC alleged that individuals with less experience and availability were hired instead of Hannay.
Such conduct violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination based on a person’s disability.
In addition to the monetary relief, the consent decree settling the suit, approved by U.S. District Judge Brian Miller, enjoins Starbucks from discriminating on the bases of disability and retaliation. Further, the decree requires the company to provide training to its managers and assistant managers on disability discrimination, to submit two reports to the EEOC on the training and any such complaints, and to post a notice reinforcing the company’s policies on the ADA. Starbucks will also make a good-faith effort to hire individuals with disabilities at its Russellville location by notifying Arkansas Rehabilitation Services of all job openings.
“People with disabilities should have equal opportunities for employment,” said Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and certain counties in Mississippi. “This case demonstrates the EEOC’s commitment to combating discrimination that prevents individuals with disabilities from taking their rightful place in the work force.”
Pamela Dixon, EEOC trial attorney, said, “We commend Starbucks for working in a cooperative manner with the EEOC to quickly resolve the lawsuit and for instituting provisions in the workplace to prevent such conduct in the future.”
Starbucks is an international coffee company based in Seattle, Wash. According to company information, there are over 16,000 Starbucks locations in 49 countries.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.