EEOC Sues McDonald's Restaurant for Discrimination

March 10, 2003 ( - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against a McDonald's franchisee for discriminating against an employee due to a facial disfigurement.

The suit, EEOC v RPH. Management, Inc. , claims discrimination on the part of RPH. Management, Inc, which operated a Northport, Alabama McDonald’s.   RPH is accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, when it denied Samantha Robichaud the opportunity for a management position and then discharged her due to a cosmetic disfigurement known as Sturge Weber Syndrome, according to a news media release.

Robichaud, who has a “port wine stain” covering a sizeable portion of her face, began her employment with McDonald’s as a cook. She accepted the position under the premise that she would have the opportunity for promotion to management.

Eligibility for a management position is contingent upon a demonstrated proficiency in handling several areas of the restaurant, including the front counter serving customers.   However, Robichaud was removed from the front counter because of her appearance, followed by a full discharge from the restaurant when she was told that she would never be promoted to a management position because of the disfigurement.

The EEOC’s Birmingham District Office launched an investigation after Robichaud filed a compliant against the company. The EEOC filed the suit on her behalf after settlement talks failed. 

The case is currently before US District Judge Robert Armstrong of the US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. It isEEOC vs.R.P.H. Management, Inc., d/b/a McDonald’s, Civil Action No. 03-RRA-502-J.