Starbucks Accused of Firing Employee Due to Dwarfism

May 18, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Starbucks Coffee Company violated federal law by denying a reasonable accommodation to a barista with dwarfism at its El Paso café and then firing her because of her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit.

According to an EEOC press release, Elsa Sallard was hired by Starbucks in July 2009 to work in a customer service position, but was only allowed to train for three days before she was fired.   

Soon after being hired by Starbucks, Sallard asked to use a stool or small stepladder to perform the essential functions of preparing orders and serving customers at the counter. Starbucks disregarded Sallard’s request and refused to consider her use of a stool or stepladder, the EEOC said. On the same day that Sallard requested the accommodation, Starbucks terminated her employment, claiming that she could pose a danger to customers and employees.  

The EEOC seeks injunctive relief, including the formulation of policies to prevent and correct disability discrimination. The suit also seeks lost wages and compensatory damages for Sallard and punitive damages against Starbucks Coffee Company.   

The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 3:11-CV00195-FM) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

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