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California Man Files Suit Against Starbucks for Disability Discrimination

A man who applied for a Starbucks job is alleging that he was discriminated against because he was born with half of his left arm. The applicant said that during the interview, the hiring manager made negative comments that alluded to his arm and the manager never discussed reasonable accommodation.

The California disability discrimination claim against Starbucks includes accusations of unlawful action by Starbucks under the Federal Employment and Housing Act, including failure to take steps reasonably necessary to prevent discrimination in violation of FEHA, failure to make reasonable accommodation, failure to engage in the interactive process in violation of FEHA and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Starbucks has publicly said that the man’s claims about what happened during the interview are “vastly different from our own.”

Part of the man’s legal argument against Starbucks is due to the comments made by the two managers involved in the interview process. According to the complaint, one manager said, “Oh, at our store our syrups are up high, and I have to extend my whole body to pump it. You can’t work here with one arm.” If true, this blatant discrimination based on the man’s disability or perceived disability without consideration of whether he could perform the essential functions would likely qualify as discrimination.

While many employees think of discrimination in the workplace occurring once an employee is hired, there is disability discrimination occurring during the hiring process. When a hiring manager or human resources manager does not hire a person because of the applicant’s disability or perceived disability, the applicant may have recourse against the employer.

Source: ABC News, “California man with half an arm sues Starbucks, alleging discrimination,” Lyneka Little, 2/15/2012

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