A Starbucks store in Russellville, AR, will pay $80,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. EEOC, charged that the company failed to hire Chuck Hannay because of his multiple sclerosis. According to EEOC, Hannay applied for one of six open barista positions but was never contacted for an interview. EEOC alleged that individuals with less experience and availability were hired instead of Hannay.
In addition to the monetary relief, the decree requires the company to provide training to its managers and assistant managers on disability discrimination, to submit two reports to EEOC on the training and any such complaints, and to post a notice reinforcing the company's policies on the ADA. Starbucks said it also will make a good-faith effort to hire individuals with disabilities at its Russellville location by notifying Arkansas Rehabilitation Services of all job openings.
Starbucks is a company known to hire and appropriately support individuals with disabilities so what potentially happened in this instance? We must keep in mind that training of this type is something that must be delivered regularly and across all company locations, especially for those organizations that are de-centralized and/or have a high incidence of employee turnover.