Starbucks sued after firing dwarf
The lawsuit says that after 3 days of training, the company dismissed an employee who asked to use a step stool.
That's at the heart of a lawsuit filed against Starbucks on behalf of Elsa Sallard, a dwarf hired to work as a barista in El Paso, Tex.
In the lawsuit, Sallard claims she was only allowed to train for three days before she was fired. She wasn't tall enough to do the job, and she asked to use a stool or a small stepladder. The same day, the lawsuit says, she was fired for posing a potential danger to customers and employees.
Cue the lawyers. The question now is whether Starbucks violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, which says employers cannot discriminate against people with disabilities. In addition, they must make reasonable accommodations for employees as long as it doesn't pose an undue hardship.
So is giving a barista a step stool an undue hardship? That's for the courts to decide. The company was sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC, which is responsible for enforcing federal laws against job discrimination.
The commission said it tried to settle the case before filing the lawsuit, but apparently those efforts were unsuccessful.
"Employers cannot blithely ignore a request for a reasonable accommodation by a qualified individual with a disability," one of the commission's lawyers said in a statement. "Starbucks flatly refused to discuss Ms. Sallard's reasonable request. Instead, they assumed the worst and fired her. The ADA was enacted to prevent that kind of misguided, fear-driven reaction."
This story shows the downside of trying to help a disadvantaged person. If you hire them and then must let them go for even a good/unavoidable reason, it then gets in the news and sleazebag lawyers come out of the woodwork and convince the poor soul that he should sue. Minorities, females, older workers and the handicapped know exactly what I am taking about, as they are the obvious targets for greedy shysters.
Word gets around as it always does, then these folk face even harder times getting jobs in the future as a result. A vicious circle, to be sure, but they could always say no. But, they never do, as self interest prevails, again as always, a lot of it due to hardship caused by workplace and/or social discrimination.
So, she gets hired and finds that she can't work in a normal environment without the use of a stepstool. She requests and receives the stepstool. Then during a busy period in the day another employee trips over the stool gets injured and files for workman's compensation. The company is going to lose either way.
Do you think if they did get a stool or ladder for her (that when they said it could post a danger to other employees) that another person could trip over it hit their head on a counter , floor or whatever, guess what , another lawsuit with medical damages on top. I don't know about you, but the SB's I've been too don't have much room behind the counter.
A busy Starbucks during the rush in the morning/afternoon is a dangerous place just to the customers, I can't imagine watching 4 people running around behind the bar making various drinks and taking various orders and one of them having to lug around a stepstool.
The stepstool poses an immediate tripping danger to the other employees and slows down the other employees and the employee using the stool; hence, bad customer service and a danger to all employees.
I can already see it, the employee with the stool is on the stool, another employee runs into the employee on the stool, knocking them off the stool and the falling/spilling coffee burns all involved and customer close by.
I didn't even know a Dwarf was covered by ADA, I didn't realize being short was a disability.
On the surface it may appear to be discrimination but I don't think it was their intention. What generally happens during an interview, the applicant will claim that they can perform all duties without any problem - just get hired - deal with any problems later. Maybe using a stool or ladder does not seem like much to ask for, but when everybody gets busy and they're rushing around, someone could easily get hurt - not to mention scalded with hot coffee. This is probably not the right work place for someone that will always need a ladder to perform their everyday duties.
Of course the attorneys will jump on it but this "probationary" trainee should be given her paycheck and good wishes. We all have limitations - I'm disabled because of arthritis - there are certain things that I simply cannot do - I wouldn't think of holding my employer responsible for things that have happened to me. You adapt - keep trying - and give thanks for those things that you can do.
The other side is that, according to the article above, Starbucks must make reasonable accommodations for employees as long as it doesn't pose an undue hardship.
Who do you suppose will face that undue hardship? The barista standing on the step-stool or those who have to maneuver around that step-stool? It's not like you can just move that stool out of the way during the busy time. And we all know how busy a Starbucks can get, throughout the majority of the day, and especially during holiday seasons.
gcbiskit, I'm surprised that you would consider the step stool request not 'unreasonable', given the nature of the business involved. It's not like standing at the checkout counter at a department store.
I am also an HR professional, and am surprised that gcbiskit et al fail to take into consideration the effect these 'requests' have on the other employees of the establishment. Where one may find this request reasonable and fair, I can guarantee you that another - who is forced to step around in order to not knock this person down or to not spill boiling hot coffee on this person, would disagree.
This takes it into a completely different arena, one called OSHA.
So, who's bigger? OSHA or ADA?
I never spend any money at Starbucks; they don't take good care of their employees, they are not a cool company (like they want you to think they are)
Why spend your money there? The Coffee isn't that good!!
Hey, try being one who doesn't look stupid cuz they didn't check their facts first.
But i guess one has to get rid of the words in the mouth before one can insert the foot.
The American with Disabilities Act states that it is a disability. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that a person with a disability has a physical impairment. A little person encounters things in everyday society that he or she has to deal with and overcome. For instance, he or she may have trouble doing business at a regular counter in a department store or at a banking machine. The physical challenges of living in our society may cause a little person to be seen as having a disability.
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