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Starbucks sued for disability discrimination in hiring

Federal and Florida law protects employees from discrimination in the workplace. Additionally, the law protects applicants from hiring discrimination based on race, religion, gender and a host of other characteristics.

One man has recently filed suit against the coffee giant Starbucks, alleging that he was discriminated against during the hiring process due to his disability. "Despite his capable work history," the man alleges that Starbucks refused to hire him because he only has half of his left arm.

When being interviewed, the man explained that his disability would not impair his ability to perform tasks assigned to baristas. The hiring manager who was interviewing him allegedly insisted that, "at our store our syrups are up high, and I have to extend my whole body to pump it. You can't work here with one arm."

The complaint insists that the applicant was, "summarily dismissed based on his appearance/disability/perceived disability ... without further investigation that (he) could not do the job." It also notes that at no point during the interview was there a discussion about possible accommodations or past experience.

However, a corporate spokesperson for the chain insists that such a disability would not disqualify any applicant from being hired in one of their stores. Apparently, Starbucks has investigated the claim and the store's account of the interview differs from the applicant's.

Though corporations may have strict non-discrimination policies in place, individual stores and their employees may not follow those policies. Even the most beloved corporations can fail in their non-discrimination duties at the individual store level. This lawsuit serves as a serious reminder of that reality.

Source: Yahoo News, "California Man With Half an Arm Sues Starbucks, Alleging Discrimination," Lyneka Little, Feb. 14, 2012

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