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Deaf woman files ADA lawsuit against Starbucks

In an August blog post, we commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since it was signed into law, the ADA has helped protect and preserve the rights of millions of disabled workers to fair and equal treatment in the workplace. While the ADA lays out actions that violate its terms and provides clear directives on how employers can remain compliant, unfortunately some employers continue to discriminate against disabled workers.

During 2014 alone, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received a total of 25,369 ADA violation claims. Recently, a deaf woman who worked as a Starbucks barista for seven years filed a lawsuit against her former employer, alleging ADA violations.

According to the lawsuit, between March 2007 and January 2014, the woman repeatedly requested reasonable accommodations to ensure that she was able to understand and participate in employee meetings and trainings and also to aid in performing "essential functions of her job." She insists, however, that the vast majority of her requests were ignored or denied.

After repeated attempts to obtain reasonable accommodations and complaining to managers, the woman filed a discrimination claim with the EEOC. Shortly thereafter, she was fired. While Starbucks insists the woman was fired for violating the company's anti-tattoo policy, which has since been revoked, the woman contends that she had tattoos during the entire time of her employment and that co-workers also had visible tattoos.

The lawsuit charges that Starbucks fired the woman because of her disability and that the company's actions are in violation of the ADA. She is seeking compensatory damages and back wages. She is also requesting a return to her employment with the company and an end to what she contends are Starbuck’s discriminatory policies.

Source: Consumerist, "Discrimination Lawsuit: Starbucks Fired Deaf Worker Who Asked For Sign Language Interpreters," Mary Beth Quirk, Oct. 20, 2015

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