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Fired Dwarf Barista Wins $75,000 From Starbucks

Fired Dwarf Barista Wins $75,000 From Starbucks


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.

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Photo from marcopako via flickr.

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4:31PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

Jobs are advertised to be achieved "with or without reasonable accommodation if required," but I have yet to see many of these jobs with people who have handicaps. More employers need to come through on what they say, so those with handicaps will have just as much of an opportunity.

10:30PM PST on Jan 25, 2012

Yet another reason to avoid Charbucks

9:33PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

I still refuse to go to $tarbucks, they are overpriced & over rated, would rather go to local owned

9:50PM PDT on Sep 5, 2011

seriously? that is blatant discrimination. I'm actually surprised she was hired at all based upon what I just read..

7:34PM PDT on Aug 23, 2011

Great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am very happy for Sallard, good luck to her.

7:46PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Will R: Don't quit your day job. Comedy isn't in your future. Maybe a stint on John Quinones "What Would You Do?" Your face will probably be blurred because I'm sure it's safer to make rude statements on the Internet, than to do it in public.

6:20PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

The firing manager sounds like an idiot.Someone-apparently with more brains than he has-hired her,knowing of her size.Obviously the person who hired her believed she could do the job.Then this manager fires her?On what grounds?That she's a dwarf?He already knew that-and so did the higher- up employer who hired her.She was a "danger"?The person who hired her didn't think so.The article doesn't say who hired her,so I'm assuming it wasn't the manager.But if it was the manager who hired her,then why did he do that if he was just going to fire her for something he already knew of? Stupid.

4:14AM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

The image of a dwarf walking around with a ladder is hilarious! I think she should use stilts, Like the ones house painters use, and get a pair of shop dummy legs to cover it. Surely even that would be more serious than a dwarf with a ladder serving me a burger! In fact I would go there just to see that! In facts I want me a dwarf with a ladder! Or I could build extra tall counter-tops, 6-7 feet tall and demand that all my employees use ladders. My point? Funny. The next Funniest things are the serious comments. I am Randy Newman, goodnight.

5:15AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Yvonne C: Who says she couldn't do her job? That's like saying she's completely immobilized in the rest of her life because she might require a stepladder or stool to do perform certain tasks. Why, the whole store could have been thrown into disorder with people flailing all over and tripping over cumbersome, nearly invisible stools. I'm sure she has learned to move through an over-sized world without causing harm to others. Besides, she's moving the cause of disabled people forward by speaking up instead of quietly skulking away.

12:17AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

Thanks for the article.

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