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Disabled man files discrimination lawsuit against Wendy's

With the economy and jobs at a premium these days, it is definitely an employer's market for job seekers. Unemployment remains high in many areas and the jobs that are available are highly competitive, even in the fast food industry. This week a suit was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against a Wendy's franchisee in Killeen, Texas.

The suit was filed by a hearing impaired man who felt that he was denied employment because of his disability. In court documents, the suit alleges that the man had previous experience from a different fast food establishment and had successfully interviewed with a Wendy's shift manager.

The second part of the interview process involved a phone interview with the general manager. The call was arranged through a Texas Relay, which is a telephonic system that is used by people with hearing impairments. The general manager refused to conduct the phone interview with the man. In the complaint the man alleges that the general manager told him that he didn't take the call because there was no position at Wendy's for someone that the crew could not communicate with.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, it prohibits disability discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees' and applicants' disabilities as long as it does not cause the employer a hardship. In this case, the EEOC feels that the employer did not make an effort with this potential employee even though the man had a solid work history in the retail food industry and he was denied the opportunity based on his disability.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, including developing policies to prevent and correct disability discrimination. In addition, the suit seeks lost wages and compensatory damages for the man and punitive damages against this Wendy's franchise. The EEOC filed suit after attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.

The ADA requires companies to treat disabled applicants the same as other applicants and for companies to assume that a disabled person would not work out, is a bias that needs to be removed from all hiring processes.

Source: EEOC.gov, "Wendy's Franchisee Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination," April 17, 2012

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