Feds Sue Starbucks for Firing Dwarf

Article Placeholder Image
By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 19, 2011 6:44 AM

With the popularity of shows like Little People, Big World, you'd think that sensitivity to the issues of dwarfism would be at least somewhat heightened.

Not so if you work for Starbucks, it seems.

Dwarf Elsa Sallard was fired from her barista position after she requested a stool to help her do her job.

The company is now being sued by the government.

According to the lawsuit, three days into her training at an El Paso Starbucks, Sallard made the stool request so that she could more easily reach the equipment. Her manager then fired her.

As a disabled employee, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Elsa Sallard was entitled to receive a reasonable accommodation, including a modification or adjustment to the work environment, that would enable her to do her job so long as it did not impose an undue hardship on Starbucks.

Generally speaking, an undue hardship occurs when the request is extremely difficult, costly, or impractical to implement. It, however, is highly dependent on the facts of each situation.

Though no specifics are given, Starbucks is claiming that allowing Sallard to use a stool would have put customers and other workers at risk, reports Reuters.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission doesn't agree, which is why it has filed what the media is calling the "Starbucks Dwarf Lawsuit" on behalf of Sallard.

If found to have violated reasonable accommodation and employment discrimination law, Starbucks will be on the hook for lost wages, compensatory damages, and subject to compliance programs ran by the EEOC.

Related Resources: