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Press Release 09-20-2011

McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant Sued By EEOC For Disability Discrimination

Deaf Prep Cook Demoted, Harassed, Retaliated Against and Fired, Federal Agency Charged

BALTIMORE – McCormick &  Schmick's Seafood Restaurant in National    Harbor, Md., violated  federal law when it harassed, demoted and fired a prep cook because of his deafness  and as retaliation for his complaints about the mistreatment, the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced  today.

According  to the suit, Vernon Davis has been profoundly deaf since he was a young boy and  had performed satisfactorily since his hire as a prep cook in May 2008. Beginning in May 2009 up until his termination,  Davis was mocked, had boxes kicked at him and was  called "vermin" instead of Vernon. After he complained about the discriminatory  treatment, the restaurant demoted him from his prep cook position to  dishwasher, and from dishwasher to utility person while cutting his work  hours. Finally, the EEOC said, Davis was fired as  retaliation.

Such alleged conduct violates the  Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, as amended by the ADA Amendments  of 2008, and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-02695) in U.S. District Court for  the District of Maryland, Greenbelt Division after first attempting to reach a  pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In the suit, EEOC seeks lost wages as well as  compensatory and punitive damages. It  also seeks injunctive relief to prevent discrimination from recurring.

"People with hearing  impairments can perform successfully on the job and should not be denied  opportunities because of stereotypical assumptions," said EEOC Regional  Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. "Some  employers assume incorrectly that these workers will have difficulty communicating  in fast-paced environments, when, in reality, they can be very effective workers."

According to its website, (, "The McCormick & Schmick's 'people focus' extends to  our employees as well, whom we treat with the utmost respect and for whom we  provide growth opportunities at many levels." The company has more than 80 locations across  the country and more than 7,000 employees.

In fiscal year 2010, private-sector  workplace discrimination charge filings with the EEOC hit an unprecedented  level of 99,922, which included a record-high number of disability charges  (25,165) – an increase of 17.3 percent in disability charges over the prior  fiscal year.

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