Deaf News: Deaf American woman sues Starbucks for discrimination

Posted on October 22, 2015

Extract from

An Arizona woman who worked as a Starbucks barista for seven years has filed a lawsuit against the company for allegedly discriminating against her because she’s deaf. She claims she repeatedly asked for reasonable accommodations to help her on the job and was repeatedly denied, and that she was finally fired because of her disability.

According to the lawsuit [PDF], the worker asked multiple times between March 2007 and January 2014 — when she was fired — for reasonable accommodations, such as sign language interpreters for staff meetings, training, and other important work events, and was denied in most instances.

“Between 2007 and 2014, [she] repeatedly requested reasonable accommodations to enable her to ensure effective communication, to perform the essential functions of her job, and to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment,” the complaint states. “With these reasonable accommodations, [the plaintiff] would have been able to perform the essential functions of her job, such as taking customers’ orders at the front counter and at the drive-thru.”

After meeting with management and insisting on interpreters, she claims she was later fired as retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She says she was told she was fired having visible tattoos — which she’d had for the duration of her employment. Other workers also had visible tattoos, the lawsuit claims. And months later, Starbucks changed its anti-tattoo policy for employees.

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Posted in: deaf news