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Press Release 08-22-2019

Oklahoma Burger King Franchise to Pay $30,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Defendants Withdrew Job Offer to Applicant Because He Needed a Job Coach, Federal Agency Charged

ST. LOUIS - The operators of a Lawton, Okla., Burger King restaurant have agreed to pay a job applicant with an intellectual disability $30,000 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimin­ation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC filed suit in July 2018 alleging the defendants, Houston-based fuel retailer Northwest Petroleum, LP and Burger King franchisee Travis County Investments, LP (collectively referred to here as NWP) withdrew a job offer from an applicant who sought employment as a dining room and bath­room attendant. The applicant was accompanied to his job interview by a representative from Commu­nity Access Inc. (CAI), an organization which provides services to Oklahomans with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but when he requested that a job coach provide onsite support at no cost to NWP, the company withdrew the job offer.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination in hiring based on an individual's disability or need for a reasonable accommodation - such as a job coach - to perform the job. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. Northwest Petroleum, LP and Travis County Investments, LP, Civil Action No. 18-cv-703-PRW) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to monetary relief to the applicant, the three-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by federal District Judge Patrick R. Wyrick on August 21, 2019, enjoins NWP from future violations of the ADA. NWP is further ordered to train its human resources manager and hiring managers in all locations on its newly updated reasonable accommodations process and recognizing individuals' needs for accommodation under the ADA. The company is also required to regularly report to the EEOC all accommodation requests and will utilize services from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free resource provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy.

"One of the biggest barriers to employment for people with disabilities is uninformed assump­tions about what they can and cannot do," said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC's regional attorney in St. Louis. "Free and low-cost resources like Oklahoma's Community Access Incorporated and the Job Accommodation Network are available to help employers identify and provide reasonable accommoda­tions for workers with all types of disabilities."

L. Jack Vasquez, Jr., director of the EEOC's St. Louis District Office, added, "When employers - and their hiring officials - keep an open mind and focus on the benefits workers with intellectual disabilities bring to the job, everyone succeeds."

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.