Starbucks sued for firing dwarf

U.S. government files lawsuit after Starbucks says using a stool wasn't reasonable accommodation
By Corrie MacLaggan
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 08/19/2011

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) — The U.S. government is suing Starbucks, saying the coffee company fired a barista in El Paso, Texas, because she is a dwarf.

When the employee asked for a stool or small stepladder to perform her job, Starbucks denied the request and fired her that same day, claiming that she could be a danger to customers and workers, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The commission, which filed the lawsuit Monday, said that Starbucks violated federal law by denying a reasonable accommodation to the employee, who was hired in July 2009 and was fired after three days of training.

"Starbucks has become a virtual icon of modern American culture, appealing to an incredibly diverse customer base," Robert Canino, a commission lawyer in Dallas, said in a statement. "We'd hope that when considering hiring a person with a disability, Starbucks would choose to enhance its brand with the mark of equal opportunity and access."

Stacey Krum, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, said the woman was hired on a trial basis and after three days the store manager decided that the work was too physically demanding for her to perform.

"Using the stool in that environment just wasn't a reasonable accommodation in that store," Krum said.

Add Comment

  • *
  • *
  • *
  • *