Company Unlawfully Rejected Applicant for Being Deaf, Federal Agency Charges
SEATTLE - An Idaho-based convenience store chain, Jacksons Food Stores, Inc., violated federal law by refusing to consider a qualified deaf applicant for a cashier job in Sammamish, Wash., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC's investigation, Nathaniel Prugh applied online for a customer service rep position at the company's Store #628 in King County. Based on his qualifications and experience working similar jobs, Prugh was selected for an interview. However, once Prugh explained that he is deaf and would need an interpreter for the interview, the store manager balked and refused to give him that opportunity, the EEOC said.
Rejecting a qualified applicant because of disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (EEOC v. Jacksons Food Stores, Inc., Case No. 2:17-CV-01285) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary damages for Prugh and injunctive relief, which typically includes training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the worksite, and compliance reporting.
"Denying qualified applicants jobs based on stereotypes costs society, particularly in terms of the lost talent that these individuals can contribute," EEOC Seattle Field Director Nancy Sienko said. "Mr. Prugh was robbed of a chance to prove his abilities, and the employer was forced to place another ad, since they were having difficulty finding applicants in that area. This was a needless loss for everyone."
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney May Che added, "This candidate was well-qualified and deserved a chance to work. That is why Congress enacted the ADA - to ensure a level playing field by requiring employers to look carefully at each individual's particular skills, instead of making assumptions about what that person can or cannot do."
Che noted that eliminating barriers in hiring, especially hiring practices that discriminate against people with disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
According to its website, http://www.jacksons.com, Jacksons Foods is one of the largest privately held corporations in Idaho, operating over 230 Chevron-, Shell-, and Texaco-branded convenience stores in six Western states, with over 3,000 employees.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.