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Starbucks under fire for disability discrimination

A former barista has turned to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for help finding justice for discrimination she claims to have suffered at Starbucks. The woman, who is deaf, claims she was the victim of disability discrimination. She was fired after reporting the discrimination, and she believes retaliation was the reason for her termination, as has been the case for many employees in Colorado who have been terminated after demanding fair and legal accommodations.

The woman says she asked for accommodations for her disability. She requested a sign language interpreter to be present when she attended staff meetings and other work events. She says those requests were denied. Starbucks cited visible tattoos as the reason for her termination.

The woman is seeking damages. She also wants reinstatement to her job. In addition, she seeks an injunction to keep the company from discriminating against other employees. Starbucks was also sued by a group of deaf customers a few years ago who said employees discriminated against them.

When someone seeks damages as he or she sues for disability discrimination, evidence that may prove beneficial to the case can include past behavior, including lawsuits involving that company related to the same kind of behavior. Documentation of special requests within the bounds of company policy and denial of those requests may also prove beneficial as a disability discrimination case moves forward. Colorado employees who have a protected disability may want to be aware of their rights and examine their legal options if they believe discrimination has occurred at their workplaces.  

Source:, "Starbucks Sued for Discrimination by Deaf Former Employee", Whitney Filloon, Oct. 21, 2015

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