EEOC Sues McDonald’s for Disability Discrimination

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — (hospitalitybusinessnews.com) McDonald’s Corporation and McDonald’s Restaurants of Missouri violated federal law by refusing to accommodate and hire a deaf applicant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the suit, Ricky Washington, who is deaf, applied online for a job at a McDonald’s restaurant in Belton, Mo. in June 2012. Washington indicated on his application that he attended Kansas School for the Deaf. Washington also said he had previous job experience working as a cook and clean-up team member at a McDonald’s restaurant in Louisiana in 2009. When the Belton restaurant manager learned Washington needed a sign language interpreter for his job interview, she canceled the interview and never rescheduled it, despite Washington’s sister volunteering to act as the interpreter. Restaurant management continued to interview and hire new workers after Washington made several attempts to schedule an interview.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for job applicants so they will have equal opportunities during the application process. EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. McDonald’s Corporation, et al, 4:15-cv-01004-FJG) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief, including training for all McDonald’s managers on accommodations for applicants with disabilities, particularly those who are deaf.

EEOC St. Louis District Director James R. Neely, Jr. said, “Removing obstacles in the hiring process for people with disabilities is a national priority for EEOC. All employers, but especially large ones, should join with the agency to make sure everyone has equal access to the employment process.”

“People with disabilities have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country,” added EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran. “Providing equal employment opportunities to all job applicants – including those with disabilities – is not just the law, it is good for our economy and our workplaces.”

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