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Did a San Diego Starbucks refuse to hire a disabled man?

A San Diego Starbucks store has been accused of disability discrimination after allegedly refusing to hire a qualified applicant with a physical impairment. Born with only half a left arm, the applicant claimed that he was denied a position at Starbucks because of this physical disability, despite having an exemplary work history in the food service industry. The man filed a lawsuit against the coffee chain earlier this month.

According to the lawsuit, during his interview the man told the hiring manager that he was confident he would be able to perform his duties as a barista. However, the hiring manager asserted that the applicant would have a difficult time working at the store claiming that the applicant could not “work here with one arm.”

The hiring manager reportedly completely ignored the legal obligation to discuss with the applicant with a disability the topic of whether some reasonable accommodation could be made in order to assist the man in performing essential job duties. Rather, the applicant’s complaint asserts, he was simply rejected based on the assumption that the man’s physical disability would prevent him from being able to work at the Starbucks in San Diego. As a result, the applicant claims that Starbucks violated the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

The man said that his interview was also interrupted several times, and only lasted somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes. This short interview would not have allowed much time for the man to thoroughly discuss his work history and capabilities as well as steps that could be taken to accommodate his disability.

Both federal and state laws protect job applicants and current employees with disabilities, perceived disabilities, or a history of a disabling condition from discrimination during hiring and during their continued employment in the workplace. Employers in California are also required to make a reasonable attempt to accommodate employees in the workplace who do have mental or physical disabilities.

Source: ABC News, “San Diego Man Alleges Discrimination at Starbucks,” Lyneka Little, Feb. 15, 2012


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