California Job Applicant With One Arm Sues Starbucks for Disability Discrimination

March 11, 2012

Starbucks has been sued in a recent California disability discrimination lawsuit, according to reports that Vincent Howard, Howard Law, PC's managing attorney, has been following, after a disabled man who was born without a full left arm claimed that he was discriminated against during a Starbucks job interview in Southern California.

Eli Pierre claims that while interviewing for a barista position in San Diego last month, he was informed by the store manager that the flavored syrups for coffee were placed in a high area that he wouldn't be able to reach in order to pump them--making him unable to work as a barista with one arm at the Starbucks location.

In his disability discrimination lawsuit, Pierre claims that as a former bartender, he is capable of performing all aspects of the job, but during the interview he was not allowed the opportunity to express his capabilities, or to offer possible accommodations that he would require--a violation of state and federal law.

According to California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), it is against the law to discriminate against individuals with disabilities in the workplace. When an employee or job applicant has a disability, the employer is required to explore all reasonable accommodation options before dismissing the person for a job or making any decisions related to employment. An accommodation is reasonable if it does not bring undue hardship to the employer's business.

An employer can only discriminate against a disabled person if the individual is unable to perform the necessary functions of the job, and if no reasonable accommodations exist that would help the person perform these necessary job functions, or if the disability creates an imminent and substantial danger to the person or to others working around them, and there is no reasonable accommodation that can be made to eliminate or reduce the workplace danger.

In the Starbucks disability discrimination lawsuit, Pierre also reportedly brought recommendations from former employers, stating that he excelled as a waiter and bartender. According to Pierre, the job interviewer also reportedly made an inappropriate comment about one of his former jobs at Victoria's Secret, stating to the co-interviewer that Pierre could help him find a bra that fits.

A Starbuck's district manager in the San Diego, California area reportedly offered Pierre another interview at a different location. Starbucks stated that it employs many individuals with a wide range of disabilities, and a job applicant with a disability like Pierre's would not be disqualified from employment.

This isn't the first time that Starbucks has been accused of disability discrimination in the workplace. As Vincent Howard discussed in a previous Anaheim, California employment lawyers blog, the coffee giant settled a lawsuit last year with the U.S. Equal Employment Commission (EEOC) by agreeing to pay a disabled job trainee with dwarfism a total of $75,000, along with other significant relief, after wrongfully terminating her when she requested reasonable accommodation in order to perform her job duties as a barista. Under the Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) it is also illegal for employers to discriminate against disabled people in hiring, job termination, employment training, and other terms and conditions of employment in this country.

If you or someone you know have experienced violations of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) in cities throughout Orange County, contact Vincent Howard and our Santa Ana labor and employment attorneys at Howard Law, PC, for a free consultation about your California workplace rights.

One-armed California man claims he was denied Starbucks employment due to disability, Fox News, February 16, 2012

One-armed man sues Starbucks for not hiring him, MSNBC, February 22, 2012

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC)

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (EEOC)

Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act

California Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC)

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Fair Employment and Housing Act

Related Blog Posts:

UPS to Pay $95K in EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Settlement, California Employment Lawyers Blog, January 6, 2012

Wal-Mart Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination and Retaliation of Employee with Heart Condition, California Employment Lawyers Blog, December 23, 2011

EEOC Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit with Printing Company, California Employment Lawyers Blog, November 23, 2011

EEOC Disability Discrimination Protection under the ADA, California Employment Lawyers Blog, November 10, 2011

California's Comfort Suites Settles Disability Discrimination Lawsuit for $132,500, California Employment Lawyers Blog, November 8, 2011

EEOC Sues Walgreens for Disability Discrimination, California Employment Lawyers Blog, September 19, 2011

Starbucks Agrees to Pay $75K in Dwarfism and Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Settlement, California Employment Lawyers Blog, August 23, 2011

Federal Government Aims to Increase Employment for Disabled People on ADA Anniversary, California Employment Lawyers Blog, August 4, 2011

Verizon's Class Action Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Settles for $20 Million, California Employment Lawyers Blog, July 11, 2011

AutoZone to Pay $600K for Disability Discrimination and Failure to Accommodate, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 10, 2011

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