Down Syndrome Employee Sues Health Food Store

September 14, 2005 ( - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against an Oklahoma health food store on behalf of an applicant it refused to hire because she had Down Syndrome.

The AP reports that EEOC attorney Michelle Robertson said Cynthia Barnett applied for a job as a grocery stocker or sacker at an Akin’s Natural Foods Market store in Oklahoma City. She said that a job coach who accompanied Barnett when she made the application was told by a store manager that Barnett would not fit in and that people might make fun of her. The EEOC claims that Barnett overheard the manager’s comments and started crying as she left the store.

Barnett filed a discrimination claim with the EEOC in 2004. An attempt to resolve the dispute out of court was not successful, the AP reports.

The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, companywide training on anti-discrimination laws, worksite postings on discrimination laws, and an injunction against further violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.