Hearing-Impaired Applicant Denied a Reasonable Accommodation and Not Hired Due to His Disability, Federal Agency Charges
Savannah, Tenn. - Fourteen Foods, LLC d/b/a Dairy Queen Brazier, a limited liability company operating a Dairy Queen Brazier franchise in Savannah, TN, violated federal law by failing to provide a hearing-impaired crew member applicant a reasonable accommodation and denying him employment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
EEOC alleged that the applicant had worked for a predecessor company at the same location for approximately two years. After new ownership took over, he applied for employment. During the interview process, a company official told the applicant that he must wear a hat or a visor. When the applicant said he could not do so because he wears a cochlear implant, the company required that he produce a medical statement from his doctor and a statement from the health department. Although the applicant obtained the necessary medical information from his doctor and provided information from the local health department, the company official would not accept the information and refused to call the health department to confirm the applicant's information. The company destroyed his application and refused to hire him.
The company's alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which makes it unlawful to discriminate against an applicant by denying him a reasonable accommodation and refusing to hire him because of a disability. Further, the company could not produce the applicant's application even though it admitted he applied for employment. Destroying or losing records violates the recordkeeping provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which are incorporated into the ADA. The EEOC filed suit, (Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-02693 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Eastern Division), after first attempting to resolve the matter through its pre-litigation voluntary conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting Dairy Queen from discriminating against applicants because of their disability, as well as monetary damages, including back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages.
"The EEOC remains committed to eliminating discrimination in the workplace against persons with disabilities," said Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director of the EEOC's Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee and portions of Mississippi. "Companies cannot continue to use stereotypical reasons to avoid hiring persons with disabilities."
Fourteen Foods, LLC, a limited liability Minnesota company, licensed to do business in the State of Tennessee, is a multi-unit owner and operator of 222 DQ Grill & Chill® restaurants and Dairy Queen Braziers in 13 states, including Tennessee, and has more than 9000 employees nationwide.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.