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Nicknamed the "dwarf barista," Elsa Sallard of El Paso, Texas has reached a settlement with Starbucks over a disability discrimination lawsuit brought on her behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Born with dwarfism, a local Starbucks fired Sallard after she requested a stool to compensate for her small stature--a reasonable accommodation under the American with Disabilities Act.
Starbucks has agreed to pay Sallard $75,000, be subject to a federal consent decree for 2 years, and will train its area managers in how to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
While the settlement monies would certainly be a hefty amount for any small business, consider the implications of being subject to a discrimination consent decree.
A consent decree is a voluntary settlement that has been transformed into a judicial order. This allows the court to maintain jurisdiction over the case for the duration of the decree in order to ensure that the parties comply.
Depending on the severity of the infraction, an EEOC consent decree can last for multiple years. They often require an employer to do the following:
There are consequences--often fines--for failing to comply.
As is likely to occur with the dwarf barista lawsuit, a business subject to a consent decree spends more time and money complying with its terms than it saved by not complying with the law, proving that discrimination can be very costly.