Belton, Mo., Eatery Refused to Interview Deaf Applicant, Federal Agency Charged
ST. LOUIS -- McDonald's Corporation and McDonald's Restaurants of Missouri will pay $56,500 and furnish other relief to settle a disability discrimination suit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today. EEOC had charged that McDonald's refused to interview a deaf job applicant at its Belton, Mo., restaurant because of his deafness.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, the young man applied online in June 2012 for a position at the Belton McDonald's. The applicant, who is unable to hear or speak, had previous experience working at a McDonald's in another state as a cook and clean-up team member. According to the suit, when the restaurant manager learned that the young man needed a sign language interpreter for his job interview, she canceled his job interview, even though the applicant's sister volunteered to serve as an interpreter. The restaurant continued to interview and hire new workers after the young man made several attempts to reschedule an interview.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, (EEOC v. McDonald's Corporation, et al, 4:11-CV-00395), in December 2015 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to monetary relief for the applicant, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit requires McDonald's, which recently sold the Belton restaurant, to ensure that the new owner trains management employees on the ADA's requirements, including providing reasonable accommodations to disabled applicants and employees. The restaurant will also maintain a telephone line that applicants can call to request accommodation, and McDonald's will submit annual compliance reports to EEOC.
"Federal law clearly requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to deaf and hearing-impaired employees and applicants," said EEOC St. Louis District Director James R. Neely, Jr.
EEOC Regional Attorney Andrea G. Baran added, "Unemployment rates for disabled workers far exceed those of the general population, and employers create a huge barrier to employment when they fail to provide necessary reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. Such behavior is short-sighted in addition to being unlawful."
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Dayna F Deck said, "Employers must recognize their obligation to accommodate applicants with disabilities. If a deaf applicant's primary language is American Sign Language, then working with the applicant to have an ASL interpreter at the job interview is key to providing that applicant an equal opportunity to compete for the job."
Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.