Starbucks settled a disability discrimination lawsuit with Elsa Sallard, a Starbucks barista-in-training who was fired from an El Paso Starbucks back in 2009 before she could shed her trainee status. Sallard, who is small due to a condition called dwarfism, offered to use a stepladder or stool to perform some work-related tasks. The manager ignored her suggestion and she was fired later that day, on the grounds that she would pose a “danger” to customers and employees.
Now, after a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Starbucks has agreed to pay $75,000 to settle the suit. Starbucks welcomed the settlement, saying that it has a strong commitment to provide equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities. They added that they would provide disability awareness training for employees and managers in the surrounding area.
A lawyer for the EEOC said that the settlement sent the right message. ”The Starbucks customer environment is one that is often considered comfortable and progressive,” said Robert A. Canino. ”By fostering that same environment for people behind the counter, Starbucks reinforces a positive public image.”
As Kristina Chew pointed out when she wrote about the firing back in May, this is a much larger issue than just one person. Although it’s symbolically appropriate for Starbucks to settle with Sallard, more employers need to provide disability awareness training so that people like Sallard don’t get fired in the first place.
Photo from marcopako via flickr.