The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



Russellville Store Refused to Hire Applicant Because of MS, EEOC Charges

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A Starbucks store in Russellville, Ark., violated federal law when it refused to hire an applicant for a barista position because of his multiple sclerosis (MS), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Starbucks advertised six openings at its Russellville store. Chuck Hannay applied but was not contacted for an interview. However, Hannay showed up at the store for an interview anyway, but the EEOC said he was treated differently from other interviewees. Based on its investigation, the EEOC believes Starbucks rejected Hannay for hire because of his MS.

Disability discrimination violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit against Starbucks Corporation, doing business as Starbucks Store 11743, Civil Action No. 4:09-CV-0715-BSM, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, instatement to the job for Hannay, and an injunction against future discrimination.

“The company failed to hire Mr. Hannay to a barista position in spite of the fact that he was qualified for the job,” said Katharine W. Kores, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and portions of Mississippi. “Disability discrimination is a priority for the EEOC. Employers cannot refuse to hire people with disabilities simply based on discriminatory stereotypes.”

Starbucks is an international coffee company based in Seattle, Wash. There are over 16,000 Starbucks locations in 49 countries.

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

This page was last modified on September 3, 2009.

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